NBA Roundtable

Joe Johnson Turns Down Extension

In General NBA on October 3, 2009 at 6:34 pm

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports

Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson said he will not sign a contract extension with the Hawks and will play out the final year of his contract this season.

Johnson will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

The Hawks extended a four-year, $60-plus million contract offer to Johnson this summer. But Johnson said he decided not to sign the extension after mulling it over during the offseason.

Good decision or bad decision?

Was it a good decision or a bad decision by Joe Johnson to turn down $60 million over four years?

I think it was a good decision. It’s very likely that JJ will receive offers worth at least that much next offseason, and there’s a good likelihood that he’ll get even more lucrative offers.

So a worthwhile risk for Joe to take.

Problems?

Mike Woodson doesn’t think the lack of a new contract will be a problem

Woodson pointed out Johnson’s service record with the Hawks as proof that no one needs to concern themselves with what will motivate his All-Star this season.

“Joe’s been such a big part of the growth and movement we’ve made as a franchise, so I wouldn’t expect anything but his best as always,” Woodson said. “He’s not going to let up, I promise you that. We talked about it at our [team dinner Monday]. This team means a lot to him, and we’ve got some goals that we’ve set that we all want to accomplish. There’s a time and a place for the business that he’ll have to deal with. And that’s later. But that’s not anyone’s concern but his. And it should stay that way.”

I agree with Mike Woodson. Joe is thorough professional who’ll come to work every day and work his socks off. Not having the deal won’t effect his effort or how team orientated his play is.

Same Joe, contract or no contract.

Max Contract Worthy?

Meanwhile, Jeff Schultz writes that Joe Johnson doesn’t deserve a max payday

The Hawks just opened training camp, and Joe Johnson used the opportunity to announce that he will test free agency after this season.

Normally, when a team’s leading scorer makes such a declaration, it’s a cause for concern. Not in this case.

I’ve banged this drum before but it seems like a good time to repeat it. Johnson is a very good player. But he’s not a difference maker. Difference-makers stand out in the playoffs.  Johnson generally hasn’t done that.

Let him go. Let him jump into the free agency pool and see what’s out there. I just don’t think the Hawks should be in a position to offer Johnson more than the four-year, $60 million extension that he rejected — and frankly I’m surprised they went that high.

Contract Stuff

Joe Johnson will be finishing up his ninth season in the NBA this year, and he will be earning a little under $15 million for the season. As such, teams are able to offer him a starting salary of up to 30% of the salary cap or 105% of his previous contract.

Lowest Possible Max Contract

That means that the lowest possible maximum contract starting salary will be $15.73 million. So if Joe were to sign a five year contract, he’d earn:

Year One — $15.73 million

Year Two — $17.38 million

Year Three — $19.2 million

Year Four — $21.22 million

Year Five — $23.45 million

Total — $96.98 million

So the smallest max contract would earn Joe $97 million for five years work, or a little under $20 million per season for the next five years.

Larger Max Contracts

In order for teams to offer more than that amount the salary cap would need to be above $52.5 million next year. Currently, the expectations are in the $50-53 million so we can assume JJ’s contract offer will be fairly comparable to the above one.

  • If the cap were to rise to $55 million, Joe could earn an additional $4 million over the life of the contract.
  • If the cap managed to hold steady at around $57.5 million, Joe could get an additional $8 million over the lowest possible max offer.

Conclusion On Contract Offer

So the contract will pretty much be worth $100 million over five years … and of course, the Hawks can offer a sixth season should they please.

Joe’s Age + Minutes

Joe Johnson was born on June the 29th, 1981. So he’ll be 29 years old when he begins his five year contract extension, and that’ll take him up to his 34th birthday.

Joe Johnson has been amongst the leaders in minutes played for most of his career. He’s led the league in minutes played once, finished second twice, third once, and fourth once. All in all, he’s finished in the top four in minutes played in five of his last six seasons (injured one year or it would be six out of six).

He’s been incredibly durable, but he’s also piled a lot of miles on those legs.

Worth

Is Joe Johnson worth close to $100 million over five years?

I think he would be overpaid relative to his contribution … but …

Relative to market prices + cost/difficulty of finding a replacement with comparable value … it would be slightly overpaying, but nothing you’d lose sleep over.

I’d be okay with paying Joe that type of money.

Explain …

Finding + acquiring a wing player with Joe Johnson’s all round game + level of impact is an extremely difficult task. Sometimes you just have to overpay and worry about the next stage afterward.

Is Joe a top dog or a second banana?

I think Joe Johnson could be the best player on a team that is built like the 2004 Detroit Pistons, but in nearly all other scenarios he would be best suited to being the second or third best player on a title contending team.

Can you pay your second best player $20 million a season?

Sure. That’s not a problem.

There’s enough cap space to have two players earning that type money, while still keeping enough space to fill out the roster will a good supporting cast.

Any thoughts on the four year $60 million offer?

Yeah, I think that’s a good deal for Joe and for the team. That would be closer to his value than $20 million per year for five years.

Ideally, that’s the deal you’d want to sign JJ to.

Will Atlanta offer more money next offseason?

I think there’s a good chance that they will.

After all, their GM Rick Sund gave Ray Allen $85 million for five years when Ray was older than Joe.

It’s not a certainty, but I think there’s a good chance. Either with an extra year, or paying more per annum to keep the contract to four years.

Any chance the Hawks trade Joe Johnson?

Fairly minimal … firstly, they’d need to be certain that JJ is leaving just to consider it.

From there they’d look for comparable talents in the trade market but considering Joe’s uncertain future with the expiring contract, they’d be hard pressed to get any offers along those lines.

It would be difficult for teams to part with such valuable players when Joe may leave in a few months time. Without a contract extension in place, Joe’s market value will be very low.

They’d likely have to settle for trading Joe for younger talent or enter a semi-rebuilding mode — not a full blown rebuilding process because they already have a good dose of talent on their roster, and because they’ll have created a lot of cap flexibility when Joe leaves giving them a good opportunity to add more talent there.

How good a fit would Joe Johnson be alongside LeBron or Wade?

Johnson would be a superb fit alongside either of those players. He’d also be an excellent fit alongside a Chris Bosh, an Amare Stoudemire, a Yao Ming or a Dirk Nowitzki.

Joe Johnson’s all round game makes him a good fit alongside any type of player.

How well will Joe Johnson be regarded in the 2010 draft class?

He’ll be a second tier free agent behind Bron, Wade, Bosh and possibly Amare Stoudemire.

Johnson will be a lot of team’s fall back option if they fail to land one of the big names. He’ll also be a guy team’s look to put alongside one of the big names if they can’t get two of them.

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  1. Joe is a very good player who will get a better offer, likely from his own team.
    Nice analysis on the salaries Joe could be looking at. Like all the bigger free agents out there – it’s not the year 1 salary that’s going to scare anyone, years 5 and 6, that’s the challenge.

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