Posted by Sekou Smith
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — While the rest of the free agent frenzy spins like crazy around him, we’re getting the usual silence out of Joe Johnson.
He received a $119 million, maximum contract offer from the Hawks Thursday and has yet to publicly accept it, leading to speculation that he is still pondering his options, per ESPN’s Chris Sheridan.
After speaking with someone in Johnson’s camp late Friday, it’s clear that he’s in the final stages of completing an agreement with the Hawks and not checking out other options. Any delay is simply posturing. The prospect of walking away from an extra $30 million (in the sixth year of the deal he can only get from the Hawks without a sign-and-trade agreement) is simply not a n option, according to the person in Johnson’s camp.
Expect a Monday announcement from Johnson, who according to the AJC’s Mark Bradley remains the Hawks’ enigma:
Five years a Hawk, Johnson has scored a lot of points — and taken a lot of shots — without winning a lot of friends. He has become the centerpiece of a team without quite becoming its leader. If Johnson had the personality of Josh Smith or Al Horford, he’d have owned Atlanta by now. Alas, he has always been a fairly dour presence, even in the good times.
In the final analysis, Steve Belkin was wrong for trying to flout the wishes of his co-owners and his general manager back in 2005: Joe Johnson was worth the outlay. The Hawks might never have broken .500 had he not agreed to come here. That said, growing evidence suggests the Hawks with J.J. have gone as far as they’re apt to go, and spending $119 million to keep him all but ensures they won’t be able to add much else.
If LeBron James re-signs with the Cavaliers, there will be celebration in Cleveland. If/when Joe Johnson commits to remain a Hawk, some Atlantans will grumble and others will shrug, and that will be the extent of the reaction. Because we in this city have watched him for five years, and we’re not yet sure what to make of him.