Posted by Sekou Smith
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Dallas Mavericks remain the one team that few people outside of the Metroplex are willing to factor into this free agent frenzy as a legitimate contender for one of the top names.
Wojnarowski is one of the very best in the business, so his reports should not be treated with the same dismissive tone that we normally condone of these sorts of reports:
Johnson was raised in Arkansas and has a comfort level living in the Southwest. Johnson, 28, is facing the final major contract of his career, and sources believe he’s far less likely to sign with a team under the cap and cost himself millions than having his agent Arn Tellem aggressively pursue a sign-and-trade. Johnson is determined to get the sixth guaranteed season on a contract that could only come with re-signing in Atlanta or a sign-and-trade arrangement, sources say.
The Mavericks have a pool of talent that could entice Atlanta general manager Rick Sund into making a deal for Johnson. The Mavericks believe they’ll re-sign Dirk Nowitzki, who is expected to opt-out of his contract. They’re intrigued with a lineup that would include Johnson as the shooting guard.
The Hawks are still expected to try and sign Johnson, but sources don’t believe they’ll offer a maximum contract to him.
Having my own history with Johnson and having spoken to someone with knowledge of his thought process at this time, Johnson is not ruling out any of his free agent options, and that includes any and all sign-and-trade scenarios.
He’s well aware of the position of power he has right now, relatively speaking, of course (since pretty much the entire basketball world revolves around LeBron James until he makes his decision).
The Mavericks would present an interesting option for both Johnson and his would-be-former team if someone like Caron Butler was included in a hypothetical sign-and-trade deal.
I’ve yet to get a concrete confirmation that Johnson indeed is ready to get out of town. The Hawks still have the best shot (and the most money to offer) to keep Johnson.
But it’s clear he’s become the object of several team’s affection, particularly the ones that realize that James could very well be out of their reach.
The Hawks can end this drama with maximum contract offer of their own, and despite suggestions to the contrary, HT sources have indicated that there have been internal discussions about doing exactly that.
Bottom line, their actions seconds after midnight on Wednesday will tell us just how sincere they are about keeping Johnson.