Portland Trail Blazers All-Star guard Damian Lillard won in more ways than just one on Saturday night.
After Lillard exploded for a career-high 59 points to lead the Blazers to the 101-86 victory over the Utah Jazz, he made this classy gesture to veteran Jazz swingman Joe Johnson, who scored his 20,000th career point during the game, per Jason Quick of CSN Northwest.
How classy is @Dame_Lillard? After scoring franchise record 59, he sent game ball to Utah's Joe Johnson, who scored his 20,000th career pts
While Lillard’s 59 was also a Blazers franchise single-game scoring record, he has always been one to go to bat for his fellow players, even those on the opposition. So despite his slight reputation for pettiness, the two-time All-NBA selection seems like one of the true class acts in the Association today.
It’s about to get real for the fans in Salt Lake City, because Joe Johnson is heading to Utah.
Johnson and the Jazz have agreed on a two-year, $22 million deal, according to TNT’s David Aldridge.
Once a 20-point per game scorer during his time with the Atlanta Hawks, Johnson has settled into more of a complementary role these days, but he’s still an effective player.
The 15-year NBA veteran averaged 12.2 points on 43.9 percent shooting last season. He impressively shot 51.8 percent from the field in 24 games with the Miami Heat after they picked him up off waivers.
Johnson, 35, is on the downside of this career, but he can still get buckets and will give the Jazz a player with playoff experience if they’re able to take the extra step into the postseason.
As Skolnick notes, a desire to play a larger role seems to have outweighed a desire to hop on the easiest route to the NBA Finals. Joining Miami definitely makes more sense from a playing time perspective. In fact, despite what had been previously reported, it sounds as though Cleveland wasn’t even one of his top three choices.
Chris Haynes of cleveland.com, however, hears that the Cavs are in the pole position for the swingman, and LeBron James made it clear that Johnson knows the Cavs want him.
“He knows that we want him,” James said Friday. “He knows that we want him and if he decides to come here, it’d be great. But if not, then we’ll continue to move on with what we have.”
Miami is probably a better fit roster-wise for Johnson than Cleveland, but the Cavs offer him a better chance to make it to the NBA Finals, which may end up taking precedence here. The Cavaliers are reportedly confident that Johnson will end up being theirs once he makes up his mind.
Four years and nearly $93 million later, Joe Johnson’s tenure with the Nets has finally reached its bittersweet end. Now, many a contender is tripping over their own feet for a shot at Iso Joe’s talents, including the reigning Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
According to a report by Marc Stein of ESPN, the Cavs have “strong confidence” that they will be able to land Johnson, who was officially waived by Brooklyn on Thursday.
ESPN sources say there is strong confidence within the Cavs' organization that they are in prime position to win the Joe Johnson Sweepstakes
Johnson, 34, holds averages of 11.8 points per game, 3.9 rebounds per game, and 4.1 assists per game this season. He’s also still putting up quality numbers from distance, connecting at a 37.1 percent clip on three-point shots.
Cleveland currently has two open roster spots, but it’s difficult to see the fit of the seven-time All-Star on that team as presently constructed. The last thing the Cavs would seem to need right now is another high-usage isolation scorer commanding the ball on the perimeter. While Johnson’s ability to play multiple positions will certainly help on a team that has always placed a premium on lineup flexibility, it’s clear that he wouldn’t be much more than a role player in Cleveland. For a guy who needs more than just role player touches to be effective, it just doesn’t seem like the best match.
The Cavs will not be without competition for Johnson either, as Stein also reports that several contenders, including Johnson’s former team, the Atlanta Hawks, will be in the bidding as well.
But it must also be noted that the Hawks, sources say, plan to make a determined push to try to convince Joe Johnson to return to Atlanta.
Johnson could still help a number of contending NBA teams, but is Cleveland the team he would be able to help the most? Even if we’ve already seen previous linkage between the two sides, it remains doubtful.
There is no indication that the Nets are on the verge of buying out Johnson. According to Haynes, the team is aware of the ballpark figure that would be required to do so, and are pondering whether they want to keep Johnson until his contract expires at the end of the season or knowingly help Cleveland and allow him to walk.
The Cavs are still looking for upgrades even after the trade deadline, much as they did the season before when the additions of J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert were vital to their run to the NBA Finals. They already got Channing Frye and they’re still looking for ways to add new talent. The Cavaliers were reportedly interested in Johnson during the summer as well, but now they could get him for much less if the Nets cooperate.
Joe Johnson’s six-year, $123.7 million deal may go down as the single worst contract in the history of the National Basketball Association, and now it looks like he intends to play it out all the way until the bitter end.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN on Sunday, Johnson, who is currently in the final year of that deal, is not currently interested in a buyout with the Nets, making it likely that he finishes out the 2015-16 season in Brooklyn.
All indications are the Nets' Joe Johnson, contrary to recent suggestions, presently has no interest in seeking a buyout in Brooklyn. So …
The seven-time All-Star has largely crashed and burned this season with unspectacular averages of 11.1 points per game, 4.0 rebounds per game, 3.7 assists per game on lousy shooting splits of 37/33/80 and a stinky 8.88 PER.
But Johnson is pushing 34 and saw his scoring average dip to 14.4 points per game last season, his lowest total in 12 seasons. Additionally, Brooklyn is eager to trade him because Johnson possesses one of the worst contracts in the NBA. He is owed a whopping $24.9 million next season, making him the second-highest paid player in the league behind Kobe Bryant. Since the deal is now expiring, this year represents Brooklyn’s best chance of moving him. The Nets would save many millions in luxury tax payments if they are able to do so.
For Cleveland to express interest in Johnson (and by extension, his contract) signals a lot. It shows that GM LeBron’s war of attrition on Dan Gilbert’s checkbook is going nuclear. But Johnson’s massive contract means Cleveland would have to send more salary to Brooklyn in order to make the numbers match.
One option that has been mentioned as a potential trade chip is scrappy big man Anderson Varejao. The Brazilian has two years and $20 million remaining on his deal. But Varejao has played his entire 11-year career in Cleveland and is a noted friend whom LeBron has stuck up for on many occasions. For LeBron to stamp his seal of approval on a Varejao trade would signal once and for all that The King’s only loyalty is to himself.
Johnson’s versatility and offensive firepower would be a welcome addition to the Cavs, however. The team often struggled to create non-LeBron offense last season, a problem that was exacerbated by the injuries to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. But you don’t get the nickname “Iso Joe” for nothing, and Johnson certainly would not be ideal for Cleveland’s shot selection and ball movement.
The potential arrival of Johnson could signal the end of the J.R. Smith era in Cleveland as well. Smith’s skillset has a lot of overlap with that of Johnson. Not to mention that any lineup featuring the two together would be completely untenable, both offensively and defensively.
How’s this for an indictment of the way Jason Kidd coached the Brooklyn Nets?
At Nets media day on Friday, Nets guard Joe Johnson was asked about the practice styles of former Nets head coach Jason Kidd and the team’s new coach, Lionel Hollins. Johnson says Hollins cares a lot about practice. As for Kidd, not so much.
“We practiced but … not really,” Johnson said with a laugh, getting laughs from the reporters as well.
Kidd and the Nets struggled to start the season, leading to speculation that the rookie head coach would lose his job. Once more of his players got healthy, the team started to win and made the playoffs. Then Kidd abruptly left for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Did someone forget to tell Joe Johnson that the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest was a timed event? The guy strolled through it like he was embracing some Zen instruction from Phil Jackson, you know, some “see the ball, be the ball” type of stuff. Where was the urgency, bro?
If you’re going to be all methodical about it, at least back it up by making your shots. Johnson didn’t even do that. He finished with 11 points. I mean Tractor Traylor had enough time to do five laps around the court by the time Johnson finally finished his third rack of balls. He didn’t even come close to finishing. Dude probably won’t complete his round until the All-Star Game tips off.