Back in the summer of 2010 everyone was focused on LeBron James’ decision and Decision, but that was a deep free agent class.
The biggest contract that summer? Joe Johnson getting a staggering six-year, $123.7 million deal from the Hawks — he’s an All-Star level two-guard but that contract was too steep and the last couple years of that deal would be an anchor. The Hawks have since traded Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets.
But before the Hawks backed up the Brinks truck, Johnson was almost a Knick reunited with Mike D’Antoni. He was seriously considering it the star guard confirmed to the New York Post. Why did he stay in the ATL? Cost of living.
“Almost. Almost,” Johnson recalled of the Knicks’ contention. “The Knicks were the first team I met with….
“We all met and talked and they had a great presentation. It was impressive. You know what threw me off more than anything?” Johnson asked. “Obviously there was the money difference, but they said, ‘You needed a place in Westchester and you needed a place in the city.’ They said you would roughly spend like $5 million.
“I was like, ‘aw, no,’ as opposed to being in Atlanta where I was already established with a solid team that was getting better every year. And I didn’t have to buy nothing or make any changes, and we had the arena and the practice facility in one place. It took me roughly 20 minutes with traffic to get there. Oh no. So then I never even imagined being in New York.”
The Knicks practice facility (and that of the NHL’s Rangers) is outside the city in Tarrytown, about a 40 minute drive from Madison Square Garden (with no traffic). A lot of the players, but not all, have a home or apartment in White Plains or another city closer to the training facility and commute into the city for games.
Johnson was not down with that. Plus, how could he afford to have a shoe closet like this in NYC?
That said, once the Hawks put that max offer on the table, no way he was getting up and walking away from it.