Here’s an idea you probably never thought you’d entertain again: Joe Johnson, back in an Atlanta Hawks uniform.
It’s far from imminent, but according to ESPN’s NBA reporter Marc Stein, the Hawks are among those in pursuit of the seven-time All-Star. I’ll give you a second to collect your thoughts and wrap your brain around this news.
Has it sunk in yet? … No? OK, take another minute.
So here’s why this might actually make sense. The Hawks are desperately in need of someone who could come off the bench and make shots, especially as we get closer to the playoffs. And, as CBS Sports noted, “he’d get to play in a system with tons of ball movement for the first time since he days in Phoenix.”
Now that a buyout has been reached as of Thursday night, Johnson will have 48 hours to clear waivers, and if that happens, he’ll become a free agent. There will be several potential suitors for his services, but expect Atlanta to be among them.
As for why this might not be such a great idea? If you recall, the initial separation wasn’t so pretty. In 2010, during an ugly lopsided playoff series loss to the Orlando Magic, Johnson and the rest of the Hawks were booed by the hometown crowd for the way they were throttled. After one of the losses, Johnson said the following:
“That doesn’t bother me, and I hope it doesn’t bother anyone in this locker room. It’s about us in this locker room. We could care less if [fans] showed up.”
Johnson said his comments were taken out of context, but the damage was done. From then on, it was awkward. He’s been booed every time he comes back to Philips Arena, even though some fans insist the punishment doesn’t, and never did, fit the crime.
But if Johnson came back to Atlanta and threw on a Hawks jersey, you’d have to figure that would all be water under the bridge with Hawks fans, especially if he can help this team get rolling again. According to AJC.com, Johnson has expressed interest in returning to the Hawks, so that’s half the battle.
Now, it’s up to the Hawks to decide if it’s worth the risk.
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