You're going to be hard pressed to find a bigger Joe Johnson advocate in ye old Blogosphere than the author of this post right here. An Arkansas native (Johnson grew up in Little Rock, went to school at U of A), and someone that dug the SSOL-era Suns (who didn't outside of San Antonio), I have followed the explosive wing's career in Atlanta with great interest. That little crossover business with Boston? That's some pretty stuff, right there.
But is he worth all the attention he's suddenly receiving?
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the Mavs intend to pursue a sign-and-trade to acquire the services of the soon-to-be 29 year-old shooting guard. This coming on the heels of reports that he's on the fast train to New York, and of course, that Chicago is on the target list as well.
The Mavericks have been banking on a sign-and-trade option for free agency for a long time (and Mark Cuban's already invested money to that effect in the form of a fine for talking about it ). They have a talented roster and are willing to absorb more salary, as they've consistently been at the top of the luxury tax for nearly the past decade. A combination of Caron Butler and pieces might be enough to entice the Hawks into going for the deal. For Johnson, it would mean getting the extra year's worth of money that comes with signing with his former club, plus not having to be "the man" for the team, playing in tandem with Dirk Nowitzki. It would also move him closer to his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas.
But is Johnson worth the kind of money that would be coming to him in a max-contract sign and trade? There's been a lot of speculation about Johnson being willing to take less than a max deal, but those rumors were tied with him being headed to New York. Regardless, his deal will still be an albatross, and will remain so throughout the length of his contract. By the time it ends, Johnson could be a 35 year old shooting guard with faded elevation. His jump shot isn't pure like Ray Allen, and there's been a noticeable plateau in his efficiency as he approaches the apex of his career.
With that being said, there's something to be said in that article linked above from Hawks blog Hoopinion on how his game could adjust in the right circumstances:
"...he could become more efficient in a lower-usage role but likely at the cost of some the volume of points he's scored and assists he's earned over the last five seasons."
That's precisely the type of role he'd fit in with the Mavs. Jason Kidd as the creator, Dirk Nowitzki (assuming the highly probable re-signing) as the lynch pin, and Johnson as the perimeter finisher. It would put the Mavs offense immediately in the top of the league offensively... hypothetically. Then again, the deal for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood was supposed to put them in similar context, and instead resulted in a swift first round ejection.
There's one thing we can tell from this report. Mark Cuban, yet again, will not be sitting around twiddling his thumbs during the most important offseason in NBA history.