Contract: Two years, $5 million
2013-14 statistics (Memphis Grizzlies): 52 games, 18.4 minutes, 7.4 points, 46.4 FG%, 3.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.1 blocks, 1.3 turnovers, 18.5 PER
James Johnson is back in red and black.
The 27-year-old spent parts of the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons as a member of the Raptors after coming over in a trade with the Chicago Bulls in exchange for a first round pick. While Johnson put up the best numbers of his career north of the border (9.1 points and 4.7 rebounds in 87 games), his shaky relationship with coach Casey caused many a headache both on and off the court.
His main strengths came on the defensive end, yet Johnson remained adamant over wanting more of an offensive role. This difference in opinion eventually led to his benching and a suspension over an incident that was eventually referred to as "an internal matter."
Those past issues appear to be nothing more than water under the bridge as Johnson looks to rectify mistakes of the past and start fresh in a familiar setting, per the Canadian Press (via CBC.ca):
It never was bad, we had our bumps, but that's war. It's a war out there when we're playing a game and sometimes you say stuff that you regret or you say stuff that you don't really mean.
Dwane Casey is a great guy and I feel like he realizes that and we've moved forward from where we were at. We had a great conversation and I'm just ready to win and I know he is.
It was a crazy road for me, but you learn a lot throughout your mistakes. I felt like Masai [Ujiri] and the rest of the Toronto Raptors they felt the same way about the situation and feel the same way about my play and what I could bring to the team.
I still have a lot to prove, but [the Raptors] signing me for two years gives me a boost of confidence and I'm going to work my hardest to help us go further than we did last year.
It appears that Johnson understands his position in the rotation and what will be asked of him moving forward. Further depth at the wing positions was sorely needed, so it's hard to knock this signing too much.
He could even step into the starting lineup at small forward, which would move Terrence Ross to the bench should the third-year pro fail to take reasonable enough strides in his continued development.
A lot will hinge on Johnson's attitude, though. If that's kept in check, we shouldn't hear a peep out of anyone.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are current as of July 6 and courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.
Christopher Walder is considered by many to be the "songbird of his generation" and the greatest center to have never played professional, collegiate, high school, house league or pickup basketball. His work has been published at Bleacher Report, SB Nation, Sports Illustrated, Fansided and several other online outlets. You may follow him on Twitter at @WalderSports.