Free Agent Watch: Joe Johnson struggles as the Hawks fall at home

The 2009-10 Atlanta Hawks won 53 games. That was the third-best regular season record in the Eastern Conference and Atlanta’s best finish since the 1993-94 campaign. All-Star Joe Johnson (21.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.1 SPG) was a big reason for the Hawks’ success.

Johnson ranked 10th in Minutes Per Game (38.0), 11th in Points Per Game, tied (with Derrick Rose) for 13th in points (1,619), 19th in Usage Percentage (26.3) and 19th in Offensive Win Shares (6.0). According to, Joe also ranked 8th in Clutch Scoring (39.5 Points Per 48 Minutes of Clutch Time).

Johnson is a hot-shooting (at times) two guard. The Bulls need a hot-shooting two guard. And if they can’t get Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh, Johnson is probably among their Plans C, D, E, etc.

However, Joe’s performance last night in Atlanta’s 91-87 home lossto the Milwauke Bucks wasn’t pretty.

His line was bad enough on its own — only 13 points on 6-for-16 shooting (0-for-3 on from downtown), one measely trip to the line, a game-worst 4 turnovers and his first foul out of the season.

But let’s talk about foul number six.

The Hawks were still up 82-81 when Kurt Thomas — only the oldest, creakiest player in the game — suckered Joe Cool into a charge. Maybe Atlanta still would have lost even with Johnson on the floor…or maybe not. But spending the last two-plus minutes of “Winning Time” without their best player sure didn’t help matters.

Said Johnson: “It was a terrible loss. It was embarrassing.”

He’s not wrong. The Hawks shouldn’t just be better than the Bucks, they should be muchbetter. After all, Milwaukee is playing without Andrew Bogut. By the numbers, Bogus is the Bucks’ best player.

Home games against inferior opponents…there’s no better time for a star player to step up. However, Johnson did not. That’s a concern. If Joe demands a max or close-to-the-max contract this offseason, well, I’m not sure that would be the best use of the Bulls’ money. Johnson is an All-Star, but not a superstar.

, ,

17 Responses to Free Agent Watch: Joe Johnson struggles as the Hawks fall at home

    Enigmatik April 29, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    13 points and fouling out against an inferior opponent in the playoffs, 1 second round appearance as “The Man” for his team…not someone who should command max dollars, but he will.

    Adam April 29, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    I’m afraid the Bulls won’t get LeBron, Bosh, or Wade and panic and give Joe a max contract (See:Eddie Robinson). He is a good player, but not max contract worthy.

    Brad S. April 29, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    Agreed. It may be the same “Gordan” arguement all over again. Player worth having? Definately. But at the cost of not being able to bring in anyone else? Hmmmmm.

    Did anyone watch the Brad Miller post-exit-interveiw interveiw? It was imbedded into the trib’s site today. I freakin’ love that guy. I hope he stays a Bull forever. Maybe he should be the next coach. How about a big man coach? I am going to retire his jersey and put it next to Big-Bill Wennington’s in my all time list of random bigs that I like. I wish McDonald would name a burger after him; The “Beefy BM Burger”???

    Okay that’s enough, I feel kinda weird… This “bro-mance” might be getting out of control.

    Adrian April 29, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    I would rather take a chance on a young shooter like anthony morrow than overpay for Joe Johnson, who only has maybe 2 or 3 years left of all-star caliber play. We need to sign scoring big, Amare Bosh Boozer, It doesn’t matter, and anthony morrow.

  5. Ryan April 29, 2010 at 6:20 pm #

    Joe is a stud. One bad Playoff game and this guy is garbage? He is a 6’7 SG that can defend… here is some perspective

    Joe Johnson – 6’7, played 76 games this year (played all 82 games 5 times in his career), career 46% FG shooter, career averages 21 points/5 assists/5 rebounds.

    BG – 6’3, played 61 games this year, career 43% FG shooter, career averages 18 points/3 assists/3 rebounds.

    Salmons – 6’6, played 80 games? this year, career 45% FG shooter, averages 18 points/2.5 assists/3 rebounds.

    Anthony Morrow – 6’5, played 69 games, career 47% FG shooter, averages 11 points/1.4 assists/3.4 rebounds.

    Give me Joe or give me death.

  6. TexasBullsFan April 29, 2010 at 7:08 pm #

    So, he’s a half a foot taller than BG, but only adds 2 rebounds per game? And only 3 more points per game? I fail to see why that would deserve a max contract.

    This team is good enough and young enough not to make frantic leaps at good, but not great players.

    Oh and Brad? The Beefy BM Burger sounds horrifying. I don’t want to eat anything called a “Beefy BM”, even as much as I love Brad Miller.

    dlouis April 29, 2010 at 9:32 pm #

    I can’t imagine what would be on the Beefy BM Burger. I would have to be some sort of animal that he has killed, possibly elk.

    Ball Don’t Lie put this up. Apparently, Joe Johnson’s stats are remarkably similar to Jalen Rose’s the season before he came to the Bulls. I think of all of the max-level FAs this summer, he has the highest risk and he could easily end up regressing into a one-dimensional shooter. Which wouldn’t be the end of the world for us considering we desperately need a shooter to pair with Rose.

    I think the best case scenario is signing Bosh along with a big SG/SF with a good three and a strong ball handler. Hopefully James Johnson’s game develops this summer because I think with his athleticism, physicality and ball handling skills, he could take a lot of pressure off of the guards if we sign Bosh and strike out on the shooter. He can be a poor-man’s LeBron if he gets his head on straight and puts in the hours. Mike Miller would be a good player as well. Last season he shot 50% and 48% while fighting injuries. Just imagine Rose and Bosh with Miller lurking on the weak-side. I would like to have him front-loaded for 2 or 3 years at a reasonable number to take shots off spot ups and screens. He made $9.75m this season, and after 10 seasons, he can’t expect too much coming his way in free agency.

    dlouis April 29, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

    Looking Mike Miller’s threes on Synergy, he shot 50.5% on spot ups, 61.1% off screens, and 52.4% in transition. I would love this guy if we get Bosh.

  9. bobbysimmons April 29, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    btw Bulls brass has mentioned that 2008 draftee Omer Asik will likely be joining the team next season. He’s a 7 footer. I don’t know much about this guy except that the Bulls gave up 3 2nd round draft picks for this guy back in 08. Also the Bulls have a short history with Eastern Euro players who turned out oh so well for us: Dalibor Bagaric, Dragan Tarlac, Kornel David, which means I’m really expecting a lot here.

    BigUpsTo#15 April 30, 2010 at 12:23 am #

    The biggest mistake the Bulls can make is signing Joe Johnson to a max contract… how has anyone forgotten that this guy thinks he is superstar?

    All he can ever dream to be, and isn’t even one, is a 20-10-50 guy(see, And before you start defending him saying his team won 50 games, remember he doesn’t come close to averaging 10rbs or 10asts per game. He reminds me of a taller Gilbert Arenas who can score a bunch of points when they are pretty much the only option on the team. Don’t forget how low his scoring averages used to be (9.8, 16.7, 17.1) and that was playing with STEVE NASH and the Phoenix “high flying shoot the damn ball in 7 seconds or less” Suns, whose other players scoring averages were grossly inflated under the same circumstances (see, Quentin Richardson, Shawn Marion)

    He is nothing more than a good player that can put up points if he is the best player on the team (see, Gilbert Arenas, Danny Granger, Monta Ellis)… and in my opinion I think D-Rose is much better than JJ. The only way this offseason will not be a bust is if the Bulls sign Amare, King Crab, Wade or Bosh) but I assure you Joe Johnson will not make the Bulls a title contender.

    C-Lo_The_Great April 30, 2010 at 1:45 am #

    omir asik
    mayb he turns out to b next dirk
    seriously tho
    whts up with derrick byers?

    joe April 30, 2010 at 2:12 am #

    “I would rather take a chance on a young shooter like anthony morrow than overpay for Joe Johnson”

    I’m skeptical Joe Johnson will get a max offer from Chicago and think they’ll work out some trade rather than overpay a FA, not named James or Wade.

    Morrow’s a spot up shooter and hard worker but he’s not been that successful. He’d do well with Rose at PG, and did not do not so well with shoot happy Monta Ellis pounding the ball.

    Dj April 30, 2010 at 5:57 am #

    I agree with most of u people about Joe Johnson I really like him over D.Wade but, for the money he is asking for this off season it is too much. People lets not forget he is turning 30 or 31 years old next season and he wants a 4-5 year contract. Hint: another Ben Wallace type of player. As he gets older his numbers will only decrease like: Ray Allen and T-Mac and the Bulls don’t want to make that same mistake again if they give him the max contract!

    People like I said b4 the Bulls top priority should be to sign a big guy this summer like: Chris Bosh (which I highly doubt he will come here) or David Lee not a top SG 1st! They need another talented big guy that can help J. Noah scoring inside the painted area. That way the Bulls don’t have to take to many jump shots when they are shooting at a low percentage.

    After the Bulls sign a top PF big guy, then they should focuses on getting a taller SG that won’t cost them that much money, that can hit 3’s like: Anthony Morrow, Kelenna Azubuike, Kyle Korver or Rasual Butler to a 2-3 year contract.

    If u think about it people if the Bulls get Monte Ellis like Sam Smith said on in a trade deal involving Kirk Hinrich and James Johnson (I think) then the Bulls will run into that same situation again like BG last year. Plus Ellis is a smaller lighter SG and likes to control the basketball a lot just like D-Wade. Which is another reason why I believe if the Bulls can get either one of these 2 players it will not work out with D. Rose.

    If the Bulls can manage to do a sign and trade deal to improve their team, I would rather trade L. Deng for Rudy Gay in a heart beat and if I have to give up James Johnson or my 2nd round draft pick I would do it. It’s not like I don’t like Deng, it’s just that he is not a good quick 3 point shooter that the Bulls need and he takes to many jump shots and he is an injury risk type of player.

    So here is my 2010-2011 13 player roster:
    PG: D. Rose
    SG: K. Hinrich or Anthony Morrow or Kyle Korver (hopefully)
    SF: Rudy Gay
    PF: David Lee (hopefully)
    C: J. Noah
    SG: K. Hinrich or Anthony Morrow or Kyle Korver (hopefully)
    PF: Taj Gibson
    SF: James Johnson (if he is not traded)
    C: Brad Miller or Omir Asik (if Brad Miller leaves)
    C: Chris Richard or Omir Asik (if Brad Miller stays)
    C: (Bulls 1st round draft pick hopefully)
    SF: (Bulls 2nd round draft pick, if they don’t trade him away)
    PG or SF: Acie Law or Joe Alexander
    SG: Derrick Byers (maybe)

    Then the Bulls are set to make a stronger run into the playoffs next season with that monster line-up!

    Go BULLS!!!

  14. PTFC April 30, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Bigs wins games and championship (unless you have michael jordan). Size matters. Easy points in the paint scoring matters.

    Shaq (LA, Miami), Duncan (spurs), Robinson (spurs), Gasol/bynum (LA), Ben and Rasheed (pistons), Olajawon (Rockets)

    I just named all the teams that have won championships (without a guy name michael jordan) in the last 20 years. One thing in common dominate big men that played both ends of the floor. This is not a coincidence.

    It’s more important that the Bulls get more talent in the front court, offensively, for Noah and Gibson can take care of the defense and rebounding in the paint.

    inkybreath May 1, 2010 at 1:49 am #

    It finally happened. I am ready for Hinrich to take a permanent spot on the bench or be traded. Deep down, I am hoping he can be here and enjoy the success that may be on the way, but I can’t have a shooting guard who is afraid of going to the dish in this league. We have suffered long enough now (I now, not as much as some …) I want a team rife with finishers. In the playoffs this year, there were some key moments, where Hinrich rushed the ball up court and just looped in and out of the free throw line. He is capable, of course, but not consistent. And, I really thought he would find a consistent stroke to finish the year, but I was not happy with his shooting. The further point may be that, especially now, as he is on the other side of his physical arc, he is not a strong shooter. Take Jamal Crawford – he can take jump shots from all over the court, up to the half-court line and in a variety of fades. I can’t even root too hard for him to be off the team, no matter what … so I guess I am just rooting for the bench. We could even say that if the Bulls get a guard that Hinrich can beat out of a starting spot, they have already failed. (Still, the more I think of it, the more I am strangely interested to watch Hinrich defend Rose for an entire game …)

    BULL4EVER May 2, 2010 at 4:17 pm #

    Chicago totally needs free-agent help from Bosh,Johnson,Nowitski,Boozer or Stoudemire because these five would be the best fits for Chicago,especially Chris Bosh.D’wade or LeBron won’t even be Chicago’s answer to returning to glory after Jordan and Pippen because this Chicago team needs low-post help from centers/forwards,not guards.

  17. Ryan May 7, 2010 at 5:18 pm #

    Why do most think we need a big man first? This isn’t 2006. Noah plays both sides of the court, Taj is consistent, JJ will be here, Asik may come over, Warrick may stay, and Miller seems he will come back. For SG’s we have Kirk (who is really a PG), Brown and Law will be gone (expiring contracts), leaving Flip and Pargo as a possibility to resign.

    I can give you a starting front court with backups, but I could not give you a starting or bench for the back court.

Leave a Reply

Designed by Anthony Bain