When the Raptors traded James Johnson for a second-round pick in 2012 – one year after acquiring him for a first-round pick – there were somewhat-conflicting explanations for the trade.
“James is a tremendous athlete who has a toughness you love,” said Raptors coach Dwane Casey. “With the abundance of wings we have, there would not have been enough minutes.”
The Raptors and Johnson did not see eye-to-eye over his role and at one point last season Johnson was benched by Casey for a pair of games after an undisclosed indiscretion, though the coach insisted that was not the reason he was moved.
“We had our moments like you’re always going to do,” Casey said. “All the great athletes, it doesn’t bother me whatsoever, but we just had a glut of wings. James would not have been happy in that situation, competing for those minutes from the start.
The Raptors still have wing depth (though a little less after trading Steve Novak to the Jazz), and they still have Casey.
And, once again, they’ll have Johnson.
Doug Smith of The Toronto Star:
Johnson had a fairly strong season in Memphis before being arrested for domestic assault in June. He pleaded not guilty, but the charge – including nasty allegations of slapping and choking his wife – likely lowered his stock in free agency.
It’s possible Johnson contributes to the Raptors, who probably didn’t need to extend a large contract offer given the circumstances. First, he must address this important issue in his personal life.