Posted by Sekou Smith
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Joe Johnson’s No. 2 Hawks jersey won’t be going anywhere now that he has agreed to stick around for a few more years, accepting the six-year, $119 million deal offered on July 1.
What’s been at issue, mostly for Hawks fans, is what else the team will be able to do with him on a maximum contract.
If you listen to Johnson’s agent, Arn Tellem, there’s quite a bit more in store. In Tellem’s blog on the Huffington Post, he sheds some interesting light on Johnson’s decade-old journey through the league, the run-up to and through free agency and a potential target named [LeBron] James.
Someone’s probably going to end up with a tampering fine somewhere …oh, that’s right, we can all speak freely now:
Before becoming a free agent, Joe focused on the Hawks, the Bulls and the Knicks. Chicago offered him a chance to play with the brilliant point guard Derrick Rose and a tough young center, Joakim Noah. A further incentive: the roster included Joe’s great friend Jannero Pargo, one of his college teammates. New York has Mike D’Antoni, the coach who nurtured Joe in Phoenix. Joe loved playing for D’Antoni and was excited by the possibility of joining him in New York. It seemed like a perfect match: a tenacious player who never naps oncourt in the city that never sleeps.
When the free-agency period kicked in, Joe made a point of talking to the Hawks first. Their owners and new coach, Larry Drew, impressed Joe with their commitment to making the team championship-caliber. In turn, Joe felt equally committed to the Hawks, his teammates and the city of Atlanta.
With all his success, Joe remains as grounded as he was a decade ago at our first meeting in Little Rock. His priorities are his family, his friends and his game. Joe could have forced a sign-and-trade deal for five years with another team, but he decided that winning in Atlanta would be more meaningful. When the Hawks offered the maximum — six years — he happily reciprocated.
For his next act, Joe plans to actively recruit other top free agents to Atlanta, a place not unlike his hometown, where he feels comfortable and appreciated.
LeBron, you’ve already met with the front offices of six teams. How about considering the Hawks?