The Chicago Bulls have sent James Johnson to the Toronto Raptors for a draft pick, the team announced Tuesday.
The pick is the Miami Heat’s first-round selection this year, which is owned by the Raptors.
Thoughts On Trade
Very nice trade for the Raptors. They were highly unlikely to pick up a prospect of Johnson’s caliber with that late first round pick.
James Johnson hasn’t played much this season but in his brief appearances earlier in the year he showed large improvement in his defensive abilities and looks likely to become an above average defender + rebounder in the near future.
Offensively, Johnson is still a train wreck. A skilled train wreck but a train wreck nonetheless. And what I mean by that is that Johnson has some talent (good ball-handler, passer) but he hasn’t figured out how to use it in a productive way yet. With his size as a SF, Johnson also has very good potential a post up power three + he seems to have the beginnings of a very nice midrange game but lacks long jump shooting ability.
As for the Bulls, I presume this move was a salary dump because it has freed them with $2.9 million worth of cap space below the luxury tax threshold which they will presumably try to use on a veteran player (linked to Anthony Parker) who can help them immediately. If something of value comes to fruition there, this can be a good trade for them. Otherwise, they gave up on a relatively cheap and decent prospect too early.
As for Johnson’s potential, I think he has an excellent chance of becoming a solid rotation worthy player and if he ever puts together his offensive game, he’ll be an above average starter at his position. I think Toronto can depend on the former happening but not the latter. Still, there is a slim chance of it happening (shouldn’t be ruled out).
In the immediate sense, James Johnson will offer the Raptors comparable contributions to Julian Wright albeit more as combo forward than the extremely athletic and quick Julian Wright who can defend all three perimeter positions at an elite level.
Thibs Growing Influence
Interesting snippet from Adrian Wojnarowski
Why did Chicago move young forward James Johnson to the Toronto Raptors for a Miami Heat first-round pick?
Coach Tom Thibodeau simply wasn’t an advocate of Johnson, who was the 16th overall pick out of Wake Forest in the 2009 draft. The Bulls’ front office was higher on Johnson than Thibodeau, but Thibodeau has gained a great influence in player personnel with the Bulls.