Lionoah

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Posts Tagged ‘NBA

Joe Johnson, Atlanta and the East

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So some (most) folks out there are panning the Atlanta move to sign Joe Johnson to a max contract in light of…well, I don’t know. The fact is Atlanta may have overpaid, but the market conditions pretty much forced them to overpay. Lets examine this issue…

There was an article in Sports Illustrated that talked about the Hawks making the disastrous move of signing Joe Johnson to a max contract which will hinder their cap flexibility over the next several years. Yep, that is right. However, the idea that it is a move that makes NO sense as so many suggest is pure poppycock. What were the Hawks supposed to do? Johnson knew that New York would offer him a max contract and the fact that the Knicks signed Amare Stoudamire pretty much made him likely to leave.

If Atlanta loses Johnson, their still developing Josh Smith and Al Horford will be stunted. No question, whatever his failings, Johnson is the rock on that roster. Without him, teams will collapse the middle and drown out whatever effectiveness Bibby and Crawford supply and render Atlanta a 6-8 seed. Johnson is the guy who keeps defenses occupied and makes them expend some energy on the defensive end. WHo is Josh Smith without Joe Johnson over the last few years, but a perennial ‘potential’ guy who can never realize the game. Al Horford would never have the room to truly test out his talents. Again, competing with Chicago, Milwaukee and another team for the bottom feeding playoff seeds.

Johnson when he leaves Atlanta would likely go to the Knicks, what with Rose dominating the ball in Chicago and Wade playing his position in Miami. So the Knicks with Stoudamire and Johnson and the serviceable Felton would effectively push Atlanta out of any chance to contend. Atlanta would be so weakened that at that point they would be forced to trade Josh Smith for a role player and a draft pick, let Crawford go (and try to sign someone else in the offseason) or not (sign him to diminishing returns) and go either the slow rebuilding route or the fast rebuilding route.  Either way, the players, fans and management (which has only begun to stabilize) would pretty much have no hope to contend for the next few years.

At this point, Atlanta has a pretty good team and should contend for a high seed in the playoffs. WIth all the hoopla bandied about, Miami is no sure thing. There are serious chemistry issues, and Eric Spoelstra is gonna have to show me something first. Everyone is waiting to blame him as the reason that Miami falters. Boston is a KG or Paul Pierce or Ray Allen injury away from falling back to the pack. That is fairly likely considering the age and history of those players. Orlando has serious issues namely that Howard is not the dominant offensive player that they need him to be now, Vince Carter is not the answer and Rashard Lewis is who we thought he was. So much opportunity there, but its only there so long as Joe Johnson is on the team…

The fact is, many things could break Atlanta’s way and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Why give all of that up before you have a chance to see if these guys can get it done? Who knows, if you consider that Atlanta has youth, shooting, athleticism and veteran leadership maybe they make a quantum leap this year. It’s not that far-fetched . The Bulls, Milwaukee and New York are at least a year away and the east can be had.

Dont tell me that the Hawks should have just given up and let Johnson go. If they do that, they have NOTHING! He balances the roster and Atlanta, despite the pundits is an élite east team. No I cant see it happening either, but again, tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.

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Written by lionoah

November 3, 2010 at 20:15