We all knew the moment was coming when we heard that the Atlanta Hawks had made a max offer to Joe Johnson: six years at $119 million.
He has accepted the offer and will stay in Atlanta, with the USA Today being the first to break the news. Johnson will sign the deal July 8, which is the first day any contract could be signed.
He had wanted to stay in Atlanta, and they wanted to keep him, but the size and length of the deal is a surprise. The ownership and fan base there love him, and the owners made an emotional decision to keep him.
Emotions and business rarely mix well.
Don’t get me wrong, Johnson is a very good player, and if Rudy Gay is getting a max deal then Johnson certainly deserves one. Then again, on that sliding scale Dwyane Wade and LeBron James deserve some sort of “super-max” deal that doesn’t exist. Johnson is an All-Star, putting in 21 points a game at a solid shooting percentage (45.8 percent traditional, 53.8 true shooting percentage, both above average considering how much of the offense he has to carry). He was the guy with the ball in his hands in Mike Woodson’s old isolation-heavy offense at the end of games.
But he really needs to be paired with another powerhouse to get his full potential. He can shoot, but he needs someone else to distract the defenses.
The real question mark is the years – Johnson just turned 29. Perimeter players usually start to see declines in their games in their early 30s, and Johnson will be getting $23 million at age 34. Tom Haberstroh of ESPN and Hoopdata.com ran players with comparable career arcs to Johnson, and said basically at 34 he will be Michael Finley. At $23 million.
It is possible the current Hawks ownership will have sold the team by then and this deal will not be their problem. But come them it will be hamstringing any rebuilding of the franchise. So Hawks fans, really enjoy the next few years of peak Joe Johnson.