The Hawks lost one of their starting five when the clock struck free agency Wednesday, as Small Forward Demarre Carroll opted to sign a 4 year, $60 million with the Toronto Raptors.
At this moment of time, it’s unclear what the Hawks plan to do to address his departure. Will Thabo Sefolosha start? Can Tim Hardaway Jr. defend the 3 as a starter?
If the Hawks plan to use an external option as their starter, they have very limited financial resources to do so, unless they plan on moving players to clear up cap room. If the team wants to address the wing with the group they have now, they have to get creative and find a cheap option.
Wesley Johnson was the 4th overall pick in the 2010 Draft, but he has never quite lived up to the potential you’d expect from someone selected that high. However, Johnson is no scrub. He could be yet another 3 and D threat to throw into Coach Mike Budenholzer’s system. Johnson is a career 35% 3-point shooter, and is a quick and solid defender.
Johnson is no superstar, but nobody even knew who Demarre Carroll was when the Hawks signed him. Many call Johnson a bust, and sure he hasn’t had the type of success many top 5 picks have in the NBA. At the same time, he has never been in the right situation, as he has played for losing teams in every season of his five year career. He has never been on an NBA team that has won over 27 games in a season.
Playing alongside a talented Hawks roster as well as being plugged into a system that fits his skill set could make Wesley Johnson the next Demarre Carroll. He has similar statistics, is just as athletic, and has practically the same build. Johnson won’t be expensive, and even if he does not start for the Hawks he would be a terrific addition as a second unit player.
It’s no secret that Wesley Johnson is not the ideal starter you want on a team competing for a championship, but Demarre Carroll just went from unknown to a $60 million man. At the end of the day, I just think Coach Bud can get a whole lot more out of the Syracuse product than Byron Scott has.
If I’m Wes Wilcox, I’m on the phone with Wesley Johnson’s agent right now. I think he and Gerald Green are the team’s best options right now to address the wing, but with a system that emphasizes defense, I see Johnson as the better fit. Johnson plays like a Hawk. Perhaps his former teammate Kent Bazemore can put in a good word for him.