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Joe Johnson makes it official — he is an overpaid Hawk

Jul 2, 2010, 8:51 AM EST

Thumbnail image for jjohnson_locker.jpgWe all knew the moment was coming when we heard that the Atlanta Hawks had made a max offer to Joe Johnson: six years at $119 million.

He has accepted the offer and will stay in Atlanta, with the USA Today being the first to break the news. Johnson will sign the deal July 8, which is the first day any contract could be signed.

He had wanted to stay in Atlanta, and they wanted to keep him, but the size and length of the deal is a surprise. The ownership and fan base there love him, and the owners made an emotional decision to keep him.

Emotions and business rarely mix well.

Don’t get me wrong, Johnson is a very good player, and if Rudy Gay is getting a max deal then Johnson certainly deserves one. Then again, on that sliding scale Dwyane Wade and LeBron James deserve some sort of “super-max” deal that doesn’t exist. Johnson is an All-Star, putting in 21 points a game at a solid shooting percentage (45.8 percent traditional, 53.8 true shooting percentage, both above average considering how much of the offense he has to carry). He was the guy with the ball in his hands in Mike Woodson’s old isolation-heavy offense at the end of games.

But he really needs to be paired with another powerhouse to get his full potential. He can shoot, but he needs someone else to distract the defenses.

The real question mark is the years – Johnson just turned 29. Perimeter players usually start to see declines in their games in their early 30s, and Johnson will be getting $23 million at age 34. Tom Haberstroh of ESPN and Hoopdata.com ran players with comparable career arcs to Johnson, and said basically at 34 he will be Michael Finley. At $23 million.

It is possible the current Hawks ownership will have sold the team by then and this deal will not be their problem. But come them it will be hamstringing any rebuilding of the franchise. So Hawks fans, really enjoy the next few years of peak Joe Johnson.

  1. mac - Jul 2, 2010 at 9:12 AM

    Actually the comparison to Michael Finley makes a lot of sense. Not a lot of people remeber Finley was a 20+ scorer and his game was quite similar to Joe’s game. The rapid decline began at his 10th season, so if JJ follows a similar pattern that means the Hawks will get 2, maybe 3 years of his steady production. Ouch

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 2, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    Yes, but that $23 million final year will be a nice trade chip if he really does stink. You know some team will trade for it to get under the cap for the next big list of free agents.

  3. Patrick D. Gaul - Jul 2, 2010 at 9:47 AM

    As a former season ticket holder with seats just behind the Hawks bench, I watched Joe play for nearly five years. He made a huge difference when he arrived, but towards the end of my tenure as a season ticket holder I detected a notable change in his attitude and his effort. Perhaps it was Woodson. Perhaps it was Josh Smith and his childish behavior. Perhaps it was simply that he was exhausted after having been played for so many minutes per game and having the pressure of always be the go to guy to win games. If we want Joe to be a contributor to the Hawks for years to come, then the management team have to get him some significant help under the basket. You can’t play him 40 minutes a game and expect him to last another six years.

  4. S.W. Atl - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    Do a little local research. The fanbase does not love JJ. Several polls show the majority of fans want him gone. And no one thinks he is worth $119 mil.

  5. haljoy - Jul 2, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    Too much money for an erractic player that dosen’t show up in the playoffs and dosen’t rebound, block shots, or play good defense.

  6. Phillip - Jul 2, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    Joe johnson deserves it, what everybody doesn’t realize is that he was injured during the playoffs but he played anyway because his team needed him,but ya’ll booed him thats why he was upset with the fans

  7. Rod - Jul 3, 2010 at 6:32 PM

    I agree with Phillip. Joe was injured during the playoffs, but stuck it out. Another thing is he needs some help. Somebody who is going to score and free him up. Maybe the Hawks can get a good player who is flying low under the radar.

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