The trade deadline passed on February 18th, but that does not mean there are no longer any opportunities for teams to acquire high quality players. The Brooklyn Nets have opted out of the contract of Joe Johnson. Johnson signed that 6-year deal for around $120 million dollars back when he was with the Hawks. At the time, the Hawks were desperate and seemingly way overpaid for the all-star guard. The contract was viewed as one of the most un-tradeable contracts in league history. However, in the summer of 2012, Danny Ferry pulled off the impossible by getting the Brooklyn Nets to accept a deal to acquire Johnson. The Hawks did not receive much in return, but they relieved burden of Johnson’s contract and since have become one of the most well-respected teams in the East. Brooklyn on the other hand has been a disaster.
With the Nets in the middle of the race for the league’s #1 overall pick and Johnson’s six-year deal coming to an end, newly appointed Nets GM Sean Marks stated that Johnson deserves the right to join a playoff contender if he so chooses.
The news of Joe Johnson ultimately being bought out by the Nets was expected, but AJC’s Chris Vivlamore reported an unexpected twist that should have Hawks fans excited. Vivlamore reported that there is a mutual interest in a reunion between both the Hawks and Johnson. Atlanta has struggled recently, losing four of its last five games, and has looked nothing like the team that won 60 games last year. However, the Hawks organization has shown signs of faith that this group of guys can still put it together and make a run at the Eastern Conference crown. The roster from last year remains pretty much the same, and the addition of Johnson would certainly give the Hawks more firepower on paper in the playoffs than they had last year.
Many Hawks fans will remember the days of ISO Joe and may be hesitant in wanting to bringing back the former star. But the days of ISO Joe are over, and Johnson is more than capable of playing within Coach Bud’s system. He would provide more consistent scoring off the wing and take pressure of guys like Kent Bazemore and Kyle Korver. He would also be a fix to one of the Hawks biggest problems. Atlanta is one of the worst teams when it comes to last second shots. Johnson hit loads of clutch shots while he was in an Atlanta uniform, and while his game is not the same as it was, he still has clutch gene that this team desperately needs at the end of games.
Johnson has also been linked to several other playoff teams such as Cleveland and Oklahoma city. Most people believe that the Cavs still remain the front runner, but the news that Johnson has interest in playing for other teams outside of Cleveland certainly opens up the race for a bevy of contending teams.