Storyline: Joe Johnson Free Agency

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LeBron James really wanted Joe Johnson to come to Cleveland after receiving a buyout from the Brooklyn Nets in late February. Sources with knowledge of James’ intentions informed cleveland.com that the four-time MVP made it known to Cavaliers’ management and Johnson that he would slide to power forward on a permanent basis to open up a starting spot for his former Olympic teammate. “All I care about is winning. That’s all that matters to me,” James confirmed to cleveland.com. “A piece like Joe, you know what it does to your team and if he was concerned about playing time or concerned about starting, then I’ll sacrifice. I’ll sacrifice to get a guy like that to help us try to win a championship.”

Joe Johnson’s family is already with him in Miami, and if the seven-time All-Star gets his way they will not be moving again anytime soon. The newly signed Heat forward said Tuesday that he and team President Pat Riley have had discussions about him finishing his career in Miami, one of the reasons why Johnson decided to sign with the team last week. “The most important thing that Pat told me was that this wasn’t just a short-term deal, that he would like for me to finish my career here,” Johnson said. “And that’s what we’re working toward.”

Joe Johnson said he chose to sign with the Miami Heat over other Eastern Conference contenders due to his relationship and familiarity with Dwyane Wade and other Heat players. The versatile swingman, who started in his first game with the Heat on Sunday against the New York Knicks, hopes to finish his career in Miami. “Man, I had a connection with a lot of guys here. D-Wade, [Amar’e Stoudemire], UD [Udonis Haslem], guys I’ve been in contact with. Not just throughout this process, but over the years, and I just felt it was right,” Johnson said prior to playing at Madison Square Garden with his new team.

The Nets on Thursday reached a buyout agreement with veteran forward Joe Johnson, who will become a free agent when he clears waivers on Saturday evening. According to a league source, the Celtics are “looking into” pursuing Johnson. Boston has a roster spot available after waiving David Lee last week. Johnson, who is reportedly being pursued by numerous playoff contenders, could be an intriguing fit as Boston makes its playoff push. The 34-year-old is averaging 11.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 37.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

The Celtics are in position to offer more money than several other potential suitors, as they have the full room exception available. That exception is valued at $2.814 million, and in this case would be prorated since Jan. 10, so it would be worth about $2 million. But Johnson is in the final season of a six-year, $124 million deal, so there is a very good chance he would favor a team that is closer to a championship, like the Cavaliers, over making a bit more money with a team like the Celtics.

Brad Stevens declined to comment on Johnson specifically, but outlined (again) what the Celtics could want in their final roster spot. “I think the biggest thing is just any time you’re talking about winning in this league right now, I think versatility is huge,” the coach said. “Certainly shooting’s a big deal. All those things come into play. Obviously with Kelly (Olynyk) out interior help is something that you’d have to consider but hopefully he’s not out too long. So there’s all kinds of things you could go through and look at but I think when you’re talking about a team like us, if we choose to look at that last roster spot, I think the versatility stands out more than anything else.”

Pat Riley already has said the Heat doesn’t plan to sign a player until the range of March 10 because of luxury tax considerations, and it remains to be seen if Johnson (who doesn’t need an extra two weeks of paychecks) would be willing to wait. Asked tonight whether he needs to rethink signing a player before March 10, Riley said: “We have to really wait and discuss that. Players have to clear waivers. Once they clear waivers, we’ll get in touch with their agents and we’ll have them prioritized.”

Maybe the more intriguing angle here: With an open roster spot and a need for some wing depth, could the Celtics be a possible landing spot for Johnson? Of the playoff teams reported to be interested, only the Celtics and Hawks have the ability to spend beyond a minimum salary (Boston has the $2.8 million room exception at its disposal). That gives Boston a possible edge over tax-paying teams like Houston, Oklahoma City and Miami, and teams with only the minimum available like Toronto and Cleveland.

Joe Johnson back to Atlanta?

The Hawks are interested in bringing back Joe Johnson. And a reunion is a real possibility. The Hawks are one of several teams with serious interest in signing the seven-time All-Star and Johnson has serious interest in the returning to Atlanta, according to several people familiar with the situation. The Nets bought out Johnson’s contract and waived the guard/forward on Thursday. Another team can claim Johnson and assume his salary. More likely, he will become a free agent when he clears waivers at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
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February 24, 2018 | 12:47 pm EST Update
LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer on Saturday said that trading Blake Griffin was “a very difficult decision,” but that considerations about the future, as well as injury and chemistry concerns, necessitated the blockbuster deal with the Detroit Pistons. “[Griffin] is obviously a superstar player,” said Ballmer. “But if you look at what happened injury-wise, if you look at the kind of chemistry we were getting on our team, the thing you can see at the high level with the numbers when I started — one guy got all the assists, one guy got all the points and one guy got all the rebounds. It’s not all quite that way, but I think in the modern NBA, we were seeing it more and more — there’s a greater distribution of responsibility.”
2 hours ago via ESPN
“We have to add some pieces obviously, but I think we’re building for what I think is the modern NBA, and that trend has only accelerated since we signed Blake last summer.” Ballmer said that as the Clippers owner, he doesn’t believe in the practice commonly regarded as “tanking,” whereby teams strip their rosters of high-level talent and endure losing seasons with a focus on accumulating high draft picks.
2 hours ago via ESPN
Ballmer said that the Clippers organization deploys analytics in a number of areas, including health and coaching, but that he was most fascinated by the use of data with regard to the management of the NBA’s complex collective bargaining agreement, which governs the salary cap. Ballmer alluded to a trade the Clippers made this past offseason which sent former Clippers point guard Chris Paul to the Rockets for a collection of players. “I find it a very interesting numeric chess game, if you will,” Ballmer said. “There are teams that absolutely do it better, and do it worse. I see [Morey] sitting in the front row. We made a trade: Chris Paul for a number of guys back from Houston. I thought they did something very clever having a whole set of non-guaranteed contracts that really gave them more flexibility in putting the deal together with us than they would’ve had otherwise.”
2 hours ago via ESPN
The Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club has transferred guard Josh Magette and forward Andrew White III from Atlanta to the Erie BayHawks, the team’s NBA G League affiliate, it was announced today. Both players are on two-way contracts. In 31 games with Erie (29 starts), Magette has compiled 15.2 points, 9.9 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 34.8 minutes, leading the G League in assists while ranking 15th in steals.
Asked how he appraised his $2 billion bid for the Clippers in 2014 — then a record for an NBA team — Ballmer said he relied on both quantitative analysis and intelligence of the marketplace and the pool of potential buyers. “I looked at what the cash flows would be, and what kind of multiple you’d put on,” Ballmer said. “A team in L.A. is literally beachfront real estate. It’s worth a lot more than teams everywhere else. Because if you ever get a foreign buyer later on — foreign buyers only want to buy in a few cities, which I knew because it was part of the pressure on the price. There was a lurking foreign buyer, if you will, for the team. But ultimately, I knew what the price was in the good old-fashioned way: I knew what the next bidder wanted to pay.”
2 hours ago via ESPN
February 24, 2018 | 11:03 am EST Update
The All-Star forward became the first player to ever post 45 points, 15 rebounds, five steals and five blocks in a game since the NBA started recording steals and blocks in 1973-74. Davis has been playing at an MVP level since the team lost star center DeMarcus Cousins to a season-ending Achilles injury, and it’s given New Orleans the belief that it can remain a contender in the ultra-competitive Western Conference playoff race. “I looked at the stat sheet when we were walking in and I couldn’t believe he had 45 points,” Gentry said. “That’s not a good thing because, now, I almost feel like I’m taking him for granted.”