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.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.