When asked during the Hawks-Magic series if he thought he was playing himself out of a maximum contract, Joe Johnson simply said, “No.” Well Joe, I hate to break it to you, but you did. Johnson played so poorly in the series, and looked so indifferent, it is hard to make the case he is worthy of max dollars.
Don’t get me wrong, Johnson is an incredibly talented player who can score, shoot, and distribute the ball very well, but when people talk about the 2010 free agent class, Johnson is not at the top. The only players that deserve max dollars this summer are LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Johnson and Carlos Boozer fall into the category of “just below max” players.
Johnson will get alot of money this summer, and probably will get a max deal from a team frustrated by losing out on the big prizes, but he showed he doesn’t deserve it. He showed that he can’t be a leader as his indifference and attitude toward the Hawks series was troubling to say the least. He also showed that all too often he is not assertive enough.
Two years ago, in Game 4 of the Hawks’ first round series with the Celtics, Johnson showed a killer instinct putting on a fourth quarter clinic with 20 points to lead the Hawks to victory. He failed to show that instinct in the playoffs this year, and for a team considering shelling out max dollars to him, that is a big warning sign.
Saying all this, there are teams that will be willing to shell out the dollars for Johnson. The Timberwolves have cap space and are in dire need of wing scoring so they will throw alot of money his way because I don’t see Wade, Bosh, or LeBron heading into the bitter cold of Minnesota. The Knicks, if LeBron falls through, will give Johnson max dollars because they need to come out of this summer with something big, even if it isn’t LeBron. Johnson could also be chased by the Nets, Bulls and Clippers, but where he lands probably will depend on where Wade and LeBron go, because no team will give Johnson a huge contract if they can give one to Wade or LeBron instead.
What do you think? Is Johnson worth a max deal? Where do you think he’ll be playing next year?
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