Hawks considering bringing back Joe Johnson (this is not a drill)

Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Johnson (7) pulls a rebound away from New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Joe Johnson pulls a rebound away from New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis during the first quarter of a game Friday, Feb. 19 in New York. (AP photo)

OK. Let’s play word association.

I say, “Joe Johnson.”

You say either: “Seven-time All-Star” or …. “AAAAAAGGGGGGHHH!!!”

It’s real. The Hawks are seriously thinking about.

When I first heard that the Hawks might be interested in bringing back Johnson should the Brooklyn Nets complete a buyout of his contract, my initial reaction was to laugh … and then drive into wall. But for a team desperately looking for answers — and make no mistake, if the Hawks sign Johnson, it would accurately illustrate just how desperate they are to pull out of this season-long rut they’ve been in — this might not necessarily be the worst idea in the world.

Or it could completely blow them up.

Here’s the background: Johnson was a nice player who never should have been given a max contract from former Hawks’ owners (whose names have been exorcised from my brain). He wasn’t cut out for a leadership role or the player most media members would rush to after games for comments. Johnson and Josh Smith became the poster children for the Hawks’ general dysfunction and postseason failures. The first move by former general manager Danny Ferry in 2012 was to find a willing team/sucker to take Johnson’s stupid contract, and he found a buyer in Brooklyn. Johnson, now 34, has seen his skills slowly deteriorate with the Nets, the team is dreadful and the new general manager, Sean Marks, is cleaning house. The next out the door: Johnson. The team has opened talks to buy out his $24,894,863 salary. (So clearly Marks and Ferry have something in common: Both believe any makeover begins with getting rid of Johnson.)

The Hawks, like other NBA teams, have been anticipating this move for days and they are among the teams interested in Johnson.

Here’s the potential upside: Johnson can still shoot a little. He’s hitting at 37.1 percent on three-point attempts this season and 40.6 percent overall from the floor. He can play both the shooting guard and small forward positions. (Kyle Korver and Kent Bazemore have struggled. Even if Johnson didn’t start for the Hawks, there’s room in the rotation.) He wouldn’t be the star of the team and therefore wouldn’t be called on to be a leader or need to be the unofficial team spokesman after each game. (Korver, Paul Millsap and Al Horford fill that role sufficiently.) The Hawks are desperate for another scoring option and — here’s the biggest plus of them all — they wouldn’t be picking up Johnson’s near $25 million contract. Any team signing Johnson likely would pay him only a prorated portion of the NBA’s veteran minimum.

Here’s the potential negative: When you think, “Pace and space,” you don’t think, “Iso Joe.” Johnson never has been a share-the-ball guy so he would seem to be a poor fit for the Hawks’ offense. He wants the ball. He wants the minutes. He wants to be THE guy, without all of the other things that go with being THE guy. He sulks when things don’t go well. At least, that has always been the case in the past. When the Hawks struggle or coach Mike Budenholzer jumps him in practice or in a game, how’s he going to react?

It’s a move that could seriously backfire on the Hawks.

Then again, they have lost five out of six games and they’re down to seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Recent ramblings from the Digital Jukebox

Reader Comments 0

15 comments
Coops21
Coops21

Can't get no worse than Kent Bazemore and Korver.

SomewherenSGa
SomewherenSGa

They are in a spiral, and they need a GM, not GM/Coach finally some excitement in Atlanta and now we are back to stupid decision. If they trade Him Bazemore and Kover would be all I would be willing to part with. Leave Dennis and Jeff alone.

ErnestB
ErnestB

I disagree that Johnson never has been a share-the-ball guy as he was that when he played in Phoenix.  He was deemed outrgo to guy for most of his time in ATL thus had the ball in his hand a lot.  He did what the team asked of him.

JerroldT
JerroldT

No, no, and no. Wrong. Doesn't fit. Won't work. Waste of everything. Shoulda got Dwight.

Home Team Critic
Home Team Critic

Something needs to be done.

Joe, one time, scared the Celtics when they were good just about by himself in the playoffs.

The big failure of the Hawks was not Joe but somehow not drafting Chris Paul when we needed a PG.

I would not have minded Adding Dwight.

Do something, anything before you blow this team up.

Harpie
Harpie

What?!!! Nooooooooooo!!!!

ryan_jones_3
ryan_jones_3

@JeffSchultzAJC I like the idea. If it doesn't work we're still a first round exit? If it works, could challenge CLE. Joe can still shoot.