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Winderman: How July 8, 2010, helped lead us to lockout

Jul 6, 2011, 11:01 AM EDT

Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks - Game Six Getty Images

We’re sure this is not the final time we’ll be going through this exercise in coming weeks, or even (hopefully not) coming months, the a-year-ago game.

Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the start of the much-hyped 2010 NBA free-agency signing period.

July 8, 2010 was, without question, a seismic moment. Amare Stoudemire signed with the Knicks. Carlos Boozer signed with the Bulls. Paul Pierce re-upped with the Celtics.

But July 8, 2010 also was, in hindsight, somewhat of a preview of why we are where we stand today, in the midst of a lockout.

It was the day the Nets signed Travis Outlaw to a five-year contract.

The day the Bucks gave five years to Drew Gooden.

When the Suns extended a four-year deal to Hakim Warrick.

It also was the day Milwaukee extended a five-year deal to John Salmons accompanied with so much regret that Salmons now can be found in Sacramento.

But more than any of such small-time foolishness was this:

July 8, 2010 was the day the Atlanta Hawks inked Joe Johnson to the largest contract of any that would be extended during the uber-hyped 2010 free-agency period.

Six years, $123 million.

$14 million more than LeBron James would agree to two days later.

$16 million more than Dwyane Wade would get to return to the Heat.

Joe Johnson.

As ownership would say amid the start to this lockout: Asked and answered.

A year later, the debate in Atlanta is the worst contract ever extended by the Hawks, a question of whether it rivals the one offered to Jon Koncak in 1989, certainly not in overall scale, but in terms of return on payout, relative to the times.

It arguably is Example A at the negotiating table of what can’t happen again, a star holding a franchise hostage because of lack of a replacement option or replacement means.

Mind you, Joe Johnson is what he is, a player talented enough to drive the Hawks into the second round of playoffs, a consistent scoring threat alongside the inconsistency that is Josh Smith.

But the problem with having a maximum salary as part of a collective-bargaining agreement is that it becomes the starting point, teams forced to negotiate down from that level. Some players, such as Stoudemire and Boozer, get it, that they simply are not in max-out stages of their careers, due to age, injury or productivity.

If the NBA does find a way out of this darkness, it needs to find a way to sort out this high end of its salary equation, before the next Joe Johnson steps up to the table.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

  1. huegtoad - Jul 6, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    yeah, sign J Johnson, keep him away from a team that could have really used him to combat the heat(chicago) and all while trying to sell the team. They signed him essentially to jack up the price on the sale and then saddle the new buyers with the contract then again with no real value for the hawks, dressing up the balance sheet was probably their only option because they knew there was some sucker who wanted this beleagured and embarrasing franchise.

    • phintasm - Jul 6, 2011 at 11:19 AM

      Yes, how selfish of the Hawks to give Joe Johnson a massive contract instead of helping the Bulls beat the Heat…

  2. jjstrokes - Jul 6, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    Is it just me or is Helin really starting to come around….. NICE

  3. n2thaizzo - Jul 6, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    Honestly… If you were an Atlanta fan, would you have complained if Joe Johnson left the team because some other team offered him $122 million? How about $119? $100? Classic case of a team where the GM/president/whoever should have been fired!

  4. aboogy123456 - Jul 6, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    Helin doesn’t know what he’s ever talking about, look at it from the hawk’s point of view. No players are gonna want to play in Atlanta, so they have a choice, max out joe johnson or lose him to another team that he’d rather go to. I think they understand he’s not worth that type of money, but if this guarantees them in the playoffs for the next few years then from a money perspective this is what they had to do.

    Kurt if you think it was so bad what would you have done? Offer Joe Johnson 10 million a year? Do you think they would offer lebron the same contract and lebron would go to atlanta?

    • themanchine - Jul 6, 2011 at 12:19 PM

      Jamal Crawford could give almost the same production for half the cost.

    • mytthor - Jul 6, 2011 at 12:59 PM

      The problem isn’t that the Hawks offered him a max contract, it’s that several owners would have. And then cried about how much money they’re losing. And everyone who has max money feels they have to spend it, even if it’s not the guy they want.

      A metaphor for the situation. Like anyone, I sometimes crave certain foods. Let’s say I’m craving BBQ ribs. My favorite BBQ place is closed on Mondays though. So it’s monday, so I go get a Carne Asada burrito instead. Then I go get ribs on Tuesday. Sometimes, I’m not even still hungry for ribs, I just wanted them and never got them so I get them. So the ribs, yeah, they help make me fat, and the burrito too. But overall, my ridiculous approach is what makes me fat. I could have had a salad, then ribs, and been kind of fat. I could have had a burrito, then a salad, and been kind of fat. But I’m really fat.

      The owners are the fat guy. The players are the fatty foods. And the owners are addicted.

    • winstonhussein - Jul 6, 2011 at 1:09 PM

      The problem with that is the ownership is essentially saying they will pay him a ridiculous amount of money in order to continue settling for just making the playoffs for the next several years. The fun of being a fan of any sports team is the chance that the team will win a championship and that starts with the front office making the right moves.
      Joe Johnson doesn’t respect the fans of Atlanta and they shouldn’t respect him. Does he sell millions of dollars in jerseys like Lebron? Does he have a single endorsement deal to help expand the Hawks brand? Joe Johnson was not worth that money and his productivity has already dipped. The team has made their decision based solely on the idea of making the playoffs and we will not be championship contenders until after this contract expires because there is no way we are getting rid of this albatross.
      Until then, I’ll continue to cheer for the Hawks, because that’s what I do. But I do not hold any hopes that we will make it any further than the second round of the playoffs for the foreseeable future.
      Really? Could any other sports ownership group in the world mess up one contract so bad that it is viewed as a detriment to the entire league a mere year later?

  5. skip3525 - Jul 6, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    I think it started before 2010.
    But Rudy Gay was a worse deal to me that year.
    They got better when he got hurt and missed the playoffs.
    Rashard Lewis shouldn’t be get $10M a year let alone get $22M.

    • jjstrokes - Jul 6, 2011 at 5:05 PM

      I agree, my Magic really screwed that one

  6. jjstrokes - Jul 6, 2011 at 5:10 PM

    What about investing team resource’s into scouting & developing young talent. That’s how the Spurs got their rings. I know Dallas is active in signing big-names. They rarely offer ludicrous maxed-out deals, eventho Haywood’s is pretty bad. They scout Overseas better than anyone in the business while finding hidden gems here in the States, i.e. DeJuan Blair!

  7. 1historian - Jul 6, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    Just like with the NFL – the players get huge salaries and those who do get the salaries and who don’t pan out immediately become the poster children for what’s wrong with the league.

    Meanwhile the fans just keep paying their salaries. Because don’t forget whose money these billionaires and millionaires are arguing over – yours. If you think they give one single s..t about you you are playing right into their hands – the ONLY language they speak and understand is empty seats.

  8. wiLQ - Jul 7, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    “It arguably is Example A at the negotiating table of what can’t happen again, a star holding a franchise hostage because of lack of a replacement option or replacement means.”
    That’s not true, they gave away rights to sign Childress…

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