Tag:Joe Johnson
Posted on: July 2, 2010 11:04 pm
 

Johnson "intrigued" by Chicago and New York

Joe Johnson is “intrigued” by the possibility of playing in Chicago or New York, an explanation for why he still hasn’t accepted the Hawks’ max contract offer, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Friday night.

While Johnson, the centerpiece of the Hawks’ revived franchise, continues to lean toward returning to Atlanta, the developing situations with the Bulls and Knicks have his attention, the person familiar with the process said. The Bulls are trying to create a championship duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, or one of those players with Chris Bosh. But short of that happening, Chicago would be ready to move forward with Johnson as a second option – or perhaps as part of a tandem with James or Wade.

The Knicks will look to finalize an agreement with Amar’e Stoudemire on a five-year, $100 million contract over the weekend, and Stoudemire spent much of Friday trying to recruit an All-Star to join him. One such All-Star could be Johnson, but he’d have to forfeit more than $25 million in the process because only the Hawks can offer him a sixth year.

The only way around that would be to have Johnson’s agent, Arn Tellem, organize a sign-and-trade by which Johnson could get home-town money and still go to New York or Chicago. A person with knowledge of the situation said no such talks have been broached; Johnson first has to decide whether he wants to return to the Hawks before such negotiations begin.

Hawks executives, who offered Johnson a fully guaranteed deal for six-years and $120 million immediately upon the start of free agency at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, have waited patiently while Johnson enjoys the free-agent recruiting process. But at some point, the team will need an answer so it can pursue a viable replacement, sources said.
Posted on: July 2, 2010 11:04 pm
 

Johnson "intrigued" by Chicago and New York

Joe Johnson is “intrigued” by the possibility of playing in Chicago or New York, an explanation for why he still hasn’t accepted the Hawks’ max contract offer, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Friday night.

While Johnson, the centerpiece of the Hawks’ revived franchise, continues to lean toward returning to Atlanta, the developing situations with the Bulls and Knicks have his attention, the person familiar with the process said. The Bulls are trying to create a championship duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, or one of those players with Chris Bosh. But short of that happening, Chicago would be ready to move forward with Johnson as a second option – or perhaps as part of a tandem with James or Wade.

The Knicks will look to finalize an agreement with Amar’e Stoudemire on a five-year, $100 million contract over the weekend, and Stoudemire spent much of Friday trying to recruit an All-Star to join him. One such All-Star could be Johnson, but he’d have to forfeit more than $25 million in the process because only the Hawks can offer him a sixth year.

The only way around that would be to have Johnson’s agent, Arn Tellem, organize a sign-and-trade by which Johnson could get home-town money and still go to New York or Chicago. A person with knowledge of the situation said no such talks have been broached; Johnson first has to decide whether he wants to return to the Hawks before such negotiations begin.

Hawks executives, who offered Johnson a fully guaranteed deal for six-years and $120 million immediately upon the start of free agency at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, have waited patiently while Johnson enjoys the free-agent recruiting process. But at some point, the team will need an answer so it can pursue a viable replacement, sources said.
Posted on: July 1, 2010 2:06 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2010 2:22 pm
 

Johnson, Hawks to have second meeting (UPDATE)

Joe Johnson will sit down for a second meeting with Hawks officials in Los Angeles Thursday and expects to make a decision on the team's six-year, $120 million offer "in the near future," his agent, Arn Tellem, told CBSSports.com.

"We met with the Hawks and Knicks [Wednesday] night and have heard a number of other teams with significant interest in Joe," Tellem said in an email. "At this point, Joe has many great options to choose from. We plan to meet with the Hawks again [Thursday] to discuss the details of their offer and we hope to make a decision in the near future."

Miami, Chicago, Houston, Dallas and the Clippers also expressed interest in Johnson. But the fact that he's circling back to the Hawks so early in the process is validation of his desire to stay in Atlanta -- and also his recognition that $120 million is a lot more than the $90 million or so the other teams can offer. That's what the Knicks offered -- a five-year deal at the max, the most that they could -- according to a source familiar with the process.

In fact, one executive within the league said that perhaps the only reason Johnson has waited this long to commit to the Hawks is that he's enjoying the recruiting process that so many of the top free agents have coveted.

"I don't know what else he wants to hear," the executive said. "If that's not enough, then obviously he wants to go somewhere else. Do you want to go New York with $90 million or stay in Atlanta with $120 million and win?"

If and when Johnson commits to the Hawks, he would throw a significant portion of the Knicks' recruiting plan for LeBron James out of whack. New York was hoping, in part, to sell LeBron on pairing up with Johnson because their games and styles would complement each other better than any other two top free agents. But if Johnson doesn't wait for James to hear all the pitches from the six teams currently scheduled to meet with him in Cleveland, it's a sure sign that Johnson wasn't sold on the idea.
Posted on: June 29, 2010 4:42 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2010 6:51 pm
 

Cap Space Update

Here's where things stand for the nine teams with cap space after Tuesday's roster tinkering by the Nets, Heat and contract-absorbing Wizards:

By trading Yi Jianlian and cash to Washington for Quinton Ross Tuesday, the Nets cleared another $2.9 million in cap space, closing in on room for two max free agents. The Heat cleared an additional $356,000 than expected by agreeing to a buyout with James Jones, but can't find a taker for the contract that would give them a clear path to two max signings in addition to Dwyane Wade: Michael Beasley and his $4.9 million salary. Technically, the Heat save the difference between Jones' $4.65 million salary and $1.5 million, which will count on the cap. But the figures below already had accounted for Jones being waived at his $1.856 guaranteed amount -- thus the $356,000 figure.

The latest breakdown, using league salary figures and consultations with team executives:

1) Knicks, $34.1 million: That doesn't include a $10.5 million cap hold for unrestricted free agent David Lee, whose rights must be renounced to have room for two max signings. The only ways to keep Lee are to 1) sign only one max free agent, or 2) dump Eddy Curry and his $11.3 million expiring contract.

2) Nets, $30.5 million: New Jersey failed in its draft-day attempt to deal Devin Harris and his $8.9 million contract, a move that would’ve put them on par with the Knicks for the most cap space. The Nets will continue to dangle Harris and others if they feel it gives them a real shot at two max players.

3) Heat, $29.4 million: Like Chicago, Miami is on the cusp of clearing room for two max free agents. Short of getting one of them in a sign-and-trade, there's only one way to finish the job: Find someone to take Beasley. Good luck.

4) Bulls, $29.2 million: Chicago cleared $9.8 million by trading Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick to the Wizards, who ironically absorbed the hit with the space provided by Cleveland in the Antawn Jamison trade. So it's possible that the Bulls could wind up recycling that space and turning it into LeBron James. But I digress. The Bulls' figure could rise to $30.9 million after Rob Kurz and Chris Richard (both non-guaranteed deals) are waived, and they’d get awfully close to the room for two max free agents by dumping James Johnson ($1.8 million) on a team with cap space.

5) Clippers, $16.8 million: As things stand now, the Clips have room for only one max player, and it’s likely to stay that way. They’ll go all-in for LeBron, but anticipating a no, will quickly switch gears to a second-tier free agent, with Joe Johnson the likely target.

6) Kings, $14.9 million: Sacto doesn’t intend to be a major player in pursuing free agents, but GM Geoff Petrie and assistant GM Jason Levien will still be quite busy. The Kings will field numerous calls from teams trying to unload salaries into Sacramento’s space, an avenue that would provide cash and future draft picks to continue the rebuilding process.

7) Timberwolves, $13 million: If GM David Kahn is able to dump Al Jefferson ($13 million), the T-Wolves’ space could increase significantly. Short of that, Minny will be in the same boat as the Kings as facilitators for other free-agent movers and shakers. According to a source, the T-Wolves turned down Miami's offer of Beasley for Ryan Gomes.

8) Wizards, $7.5 million: All that space, and then some, disappears if Washington picks up Josh Howard’s $11.8 million team option for 2010-11. That’s unlikely. It’s also a long shot that the Wizards will be players in the free-agent derby, preferring instead to wait until the financial framework of a new CBA is set. While Washington still has room to absorb Beasley, the chances of them taking on a player with character questions are slim to none, given the image hit they took last season with the Gilbert Arenas incident. They're more likely to trade Arenas than trade for Beasley.

9) Thunder, $5.5 million: GM Sam Presti finally delved into his cap space to acquire Daequan Cook and the expiring contract of Morris Peterson, deals that yielded 11th pick Cole Aldrich and future draft picks.


Posted on: June 25, 2010 11:06 pm
Edited on: June 26, 2010 1:17 am
 

Thorn stepping down as Nets' president (UPDATE)

Following a bizarre trend that apparently dictates that it's better to be devoid of leadership at the most critical time in franchise history, the Nets will be without the executive who led them to two Finals appearances and gave them the best chance of succeeding in free agency. Rod Thorn is stepping down as team president effective July 15, a person familiar with the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com Friday night.

You read that right: Thorn will be pulling the Summer of LeBron version of Kevin Pritchard's draft night, conducting the chase for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson -- a chase the franchise endured a payroll-gutting, 12-win season to engage in. When it's over, he's gone, according to the person with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to announce the move.

While it was known that Thorn's contract was set to expire June 30, his departure is stunning considering his accomplishments and the importance of the free-agent negotiating period that begins July 1. Thorn has agreed to stay on until July 15 to help navigate free agency, but it's not clear what marquee player would choose to join the Nets in Newark, N.J., without knowing who's making the basketball decisions. The team won't move to its new digs in Brooklyn for two more years.

According to an executive with another team who is familiar with the situation, Thorn was asked to take a massive pay cut and balked. Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov may be a billionaire, but not when it comes to paying the person running his basketball team. "He wants a younger voice," the person said.

But that description contradicted a Bergen (N.J.) Record report early Saturday in which Jerry Colangelo was touted as the leading candidate to replace Thorn. The report, which hinted that Colangelo could have some role in the Nets' free-agent visit with James next week in Ohio, rekindled speculation that arose during All-Star weekend in Dallas. At that time, when Prokhorov's bid for the Nets was still being considered by the NBA's Board of Governors, Colangelo said he wasn't pursuing any jobs but would listen if the Nets called. The managing director of USA Basketball, Colangelo would be a key asset in the Nets' pursuit of James or other free agents from the 2008 Olympic team that won gold in Beijing. 

Unlike the Cavaliers and Clippers, the Nets at least do have a coach in place -- and perhaps Avery Johnson is angling for personnel authority, given that he stressed his desire for such control in other job interviews this summer. But without Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe, whom Prokhorov fired through the news media several weeks ago, the Nets will be without a credible basketball management figure at by far the most crucial point in the history of this meandering, mostly second-rate franchise.

Reached via text message Friday night, Thorn replied, "Right now, I have no comment."

The Nets are by no means the only team to gut itself of basketball intellect on the cusp of irreversibly important decisions. Suns owner Robert Sarver decided to cut ties with GM Steve Kerr at a time when Kerr and his assistant, David Griffin -- who also is departing -- were trying to negotiate an extension with star forward Amar'e Stoudemire. The Cavs decided to stumble into the most important month in Cleveland sports history -- and one that could change the NBA landscape forever -- without a coach or GM. Chris Grant, the replacement for former GM Danny Ferry, is indisputably talented but also has never been faced with circumstances as pressurized as possibly losing his city's biggest sports star since Jim Brown.

The Clippers, also entertaining false hope of luring major free agents, have yet to hire a coach. And the Trail Blazers -- though not free-agent players -- made a mockery of the GM profession Thursday when owner Paul Allen fired Pritchard an hour before the draft while instructing him to make his picks and trades before going home for good.

The only thing any of this proves, besides incompetence, is that there's no better job than being an unemployed or soon-to-be unemployed GM in the NBA. Either you're still getting paid by the team that fired you, which is good, or you're salivating over numerous job openings. Or both. But something you're not doing if you're a team without leadership is signing James or Wade as a free agent.





Posted on: June 12, 2010 12:37 pm
 

Hawks go for budget hire in Drew


The Hawks' brass had a conference call Thursday afternoon to discuss the three finalists for their vacant head coaching position. By the end of the call, around lunchtime, the consensus was that the team would move forward with an offer to Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey.

What quickly became appparent as various factions of the team's complicated ownership group weighed in, however, was that there was really only one candidate who would fit under the team's $1.5 million annual budget for the job of replacing Mike Woodson. That was Woodson's trusted assistant, Larry Drew.

With Casey and Mark Jackson losing interest as the Hawks' low-ball approach became apparent, the team will move forward with the unproven, in-house candidate and hope that Drew can thrive in much the same way Alvin Gentry emerged as a successful internal option in Phoenix, sources told CBSSports.com Saturday.

So the Hawks' effort to placate free agent Joe Johnson is a known quantity who served under the coach who was fired after Atlanta's uninspiring playoff loss to the Magic. One thing Drew has going for him is that some in the organization believe he can connect with difficult but talented forward Josh Smith. In fact, if Casey had been the choice, it was believed that Drew was amenable to serving on his staff as a way to bridge the gap between administrations and keep Smith engaged.

By going with Drew, the Hawks do something that is increasingly important to low-revenue teams in their financial predicament: Save money. Woodson made a little more than $2 million with incentives last season, and retaining him likely would've cost at least $2.5 million a year on a new contract.

Posted on: May 18, 2010 9:01 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2010 9:38 am
 

Wizards get Wall; Nets get robbed (UPDATE)

Gilbert Arenas tore the Wizards apart. On Tuesday night, the basketball gods took a major step toward putting them back together.

In an upset that could make all the misery of the past season worthwhile, the Wizards landed the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA draft – a development that gives them an unobstructed path to turning around a franchise that was decimated by Arenas’ gun conviction and season-long suspension.

League sources believe the Wizards will use the pick to select Kentucky point guard John Wall, who watched the proceedings from Beverly Hills, Calif., with his new agent, Dan Fegan.

"It’s a great opportunity to get drafted by any team," Wall said. "It means a lot. I’m just going to come in, work hard, try to make the team better, and just try to win games for the organization next year."

In a phone interview with CBSSports.com, Wall said he was expecting the Nets to get the pick but added, "I'm not disappointed. I'm real happy, just excited to play for any team in the NBA."

The Wizards "went through a lot last year," Wall said. "I'll have an opportunity to help turn the organization around. They have cap space to add some good players."

Wall said he'd received a text from his college coach, John Calipari, who is at the center of speculation about several NBA coaching jobs. Wall said he hasn't discussed Coach Cal's future with him -- nor has he spoken with his pal, LeBron James, since his season ended prematurely with a loss to Boston in the conference semifinals.

As for the possibility that ping pong balls and free agency could bring them together somewhere, Wall said, "That would be exciting, but I haven't talked to him about that. I'm just excited to get a chance to play in the NBA."

Wall, the consensus top pick among a cross-section of league personnel executives, will instantly make the Wizards better simply by showing up. It will be hard to fathom them being worse than the 26-win disaster they were this past season with the addition of Wall and with Arenas coming back.

Irene Pollin, the widow of late Wizards owner Abe Pollin, represented the team at the lottery proceedings in Secaucus, N.J. She wore her late husband’s 1978 championship ring in a moving tribute to the man whose memory was besmirched by Arenas’ weapons possession in the team’s locker room.

The incident led to Arenas being suspended indefinitely, and then for the rest of the 2009-10 season by NBA commissioner David Stern. Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld and assistant GM Tommy Sheppard responded by quickly tearing apart a roster that had been expected to be among the top contenders in the Eastern Conference. By trading Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson, the Wizards not only got below the punitive luxury-tax threshold for this past season, but they also cleared enough cap flexibility to chase a max free agent when the much anticipated negotiating period opens July 1.

If the Wizards decline an $11.8 million player option for Josh Howard, acquired from Dallas in the trade that send Butler and Haywood to the Mavericks, they will have nearly $20 million in cap space – enough for a max player and then some to go with Wall, Arenas, restricted free agent Randy Foye, JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche, and role players Nick Young, Al Thornton and Quinton Ross.

And here’s the kicker: If the Wizards want to part ways with Arenas and the $80 million he’s owed over the next four seasons, they can dangle the rights to Wall as his traveling partner. The asking price almost certainly would be one of the marquee free agents threatening to leave their current teams – including LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and Amar'e Stoudemire. Faced with the prospect of losing one of those franchise cornerstones and getting nothing in return, all of those teams will be open to discussions with the Wizards.

The Wizards' good fortune was juxtaposed with the first disappointment of the Mikhail Prokhorov era as owner of the Nets. The Russian tycoon stood stern-faced and emotionless as the news was read in the Secaucus studio that his nomadic, star-crossed franchise had failed to cash in on its league-high 25 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick. The Nets got the third pick, which also will put them out of the running for Ohio State's Evan Turner, whom many league executives believe will be a fine consolation prize for not getting Wall. The second pick went to Philadelphia, which jumped four spots from sixth in the lottery odds.

The Wizards were slotted fifth, with a 7.6 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick. The Timberwolves, slotted second with a 19.9 percent chance of getting the top pick, wound up with the fourth selection. The Kings, slotted third, fell one spot to fifth, while the fourth-slotted Warriors fell to sixth.




Posted on: May 12, 2010 3:10 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2010 3:13 pm
 

Hawks mulling extension for Woodson

Making a decision on Mike Woodson's future is the Hawks "No. 1 priority" this offseason, and it will be resolved quickly, a person with knowledge of the team's plans told CBSSports.com.

"With respect to Woody, and in fairness to him, I think it will be resolved soon, one way or another," the person said.

The Hawks won 53 games, their fifth straight regular-season improvement under Woodson, who coached the entire season on the last year of his contract without an extension. Hawks GM Rick Sund has a long-standing policy not to do contract extensions during the season.

But Woodson's legacy has been tarnished by Atlanta's four-game implosion against the Magic, a sweep in which the Hawks were outscored by 101 points. It was the Hawks' second straight season-ending sweep, coming on the heels of last season's 4-0 loss to the Cavaliers in the conference semifinals.

Woodson's salary with bonuses exceeded $2 million this season, and rival executives don't expect the Hawks to offer much more than that on a new deal -- which could be a recipe for Woodson's quick exit. Woodson is represented by Joe Glass, who also represents Bobcats coach Larry Brown -- which essentially means Woodson's future is tied to Brown's.

Woodson has been linked to the Philadelphia 76ers' opening as a package deal with Brown, who would replace Ed Stefanski as team president. To this point, Woodson and Brown are about the only two people in the NBA who haven't interviewed for the Sixers' job. Sources are skeptical of the Sixers' enthusiasm for turning the basketball decisions over to Brown if he isn't coaching. Some executives believe the Clippers remain the most sensible option for Brown as coach and team president, despite Brown's comments in an interview this week that he is having difficulty being away from his family in Philadelphia.

One consideration for the Hawks, sources say, is to make Woodson a firm offer within the next week. If the offer isn't to his liking, "It'll give him an opportunity to get involved for other jobs," said one person familiar with the team's plans.

The other hot-button issue for the Hawks is the future of Joe Johnson, who had a miserable series against Orlando and made it worse with comments critical of fans who had booed the team at home. One person close to Johnson said the circumstances may have made it less likely for Johnson to bolt the placid environment of Atlanta for a pressure-cooker like New York. Going to Chicago to play with Derrick Rose and "let Rose take all the daggers," a source said, might be a more attractive option. But sources say the Hawks' brass haven't ruled out Johnson returning to Atlanta.





 
 
 
 
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