Hawks apparently ready to bid against themselves for Joe Johnson

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Thumbnail image for johnson_game.jpgYou just knew somebody was going to make the mistake this summer of offering Joe Johnson a max deal that extends too long at five years.

Didn’t expect it to be the Hawks, though.  

That is what the New York Daily News is reporting the Hawks will do, adding that they want a new coach to keep Johnson’s regular season minutes down. Because that was the problem, the reason they got swept, not the Magic’s defense. Or overall superior talent level. Right. Sure it was.

Dwane Casey is the favorite to succeed Woodson, who did not endear himself to management by playing Joe Johnson extended minutes this season. Johnson had a nightmare series against the Magic and management thinks that he got worn down vs. Orlando. Despite averaging only 12.8 ppg on 29.8% shooting – far below his season averages (21 ppg on 46%) – that’s not going to stop the Hawks from offering their top player a maximum-salary contract. They’re not about to let him walk, even if they’ll be overpaying

Because these rumors come from the Daily News, please sprinkle liberally with salt.

If it is true, then Hawks management is about to blow it. Not the hiring Dwane Casey part — that is smart and some team like the Hawks or the Clippers is going to make a good hire there.

But Johnson is not a max player. Nobody thinks he is or plans to offer the max — he is a good number two guy, a top flight wing player who will get you points when played with another guy who can draw defenders and set him up. Which is what Nash did for him in Phoenix (they had Amare Stoudemire, too). For the Hawks, they relied too much on Johnson to be the creator, not the finisher.

A new coach, a more defensive focus to create turnovers and get Atlanta out and running more, plus a point guard that could run the break will go a long way to making the Hawks better. Johnson could certainly be a part of that. But at max money? That is too steep a price to pay, and if the deal is the five or six years the Hawks will regret the last couple years of that.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi
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Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.

Jahlil Okafor fights man in Boston (video)

Jahlil Okafor

The 76ers lost a heartbreaker to the Celtics last night, dropping Philadelphia to 0-16.

Jahlil Okafor was apparently in a foul mood after the game.


We’re told everyone got up and fled the scene and no arrests were made.

We’re told the altercation began because one of the men in the other group yelled at Jahlil, “The 76ers suck.”

We spoke with a rep for Jahlil who tells us … Okafor says he was being heckled from the moment he left the club and felt threatened because people swarmed him on the street.


This video obviously doesn’t show everything, but it certainly makes Okafor look like the aggressor.

Okafor will probably face punishment from some combination of the legal system, NBA and 76ers.

Kristaps Porzingis envelops Victor Oladipo’s dunk attempt (video)

Nikola Vucevic, Kristaps Porzingis
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Scott Skiles moved Victor Oladipo to the bench, because the Magic coach wanted to give Oladipo a chance to be more aggressive.

It worked.

Oladipo scored a season-high 24 points in the Magic’s 100-91 win over the Knicks.

But Oladipo’s aggressiveness also produced this fantastic Kristaps Porzingis block: