Inside the Mind of Atlanta Hawks Guard Joe Johnson

Jack BenderCorrespondent IAugust 5, 2009

ATLANTA - MAY 09:  Joe Johnson #2 of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Zydrunas Ilgauskas #11 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 9, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

On June 1, I wrote up a very modest to-do list for Atlanta Hawks GM Rick Sund.  He has taken that list to heart and has accomplished one of the best summers in the history of the Hawks franchise.  However, he is making his most important move this week by trying to work out a contract extension with Joe Johnson.


On a daily basis, I only read one Atlanta Hawks blog—Bret LeGree’s Hoopinion blog which is part of the ESPN True Hoop network.  LeGree is a great read because he looks at Hawks issues from a totally different perspective than I do. 


He is one of these NBA stats guys in the mold of the Houston Rocket’s GM Daryl Morey.  I like the new focus on statistical analysis, but I think it is a way for NBA talent evaluators to hide behind the numbers.  Statistics never tell the whole story of a team or a player. 


Today, LeGree is way off base in his Joe Johnson analysis.  Johnson, not the Atlanta Hawks, should be wary of signing an extension.  A big part of negotiating is trying to think like your adversary.  Take a trip with me inside the mind of Joe Johnson.


If I am Joe Johnson...


...I figure that the Hawks simply have to find a way to work out a contract extension for me.  A five-year, $75 million deal seems like a bunch of money, but it really is not for someone with my unique skill set.  The only reason I can think of for me not to play out this contract and become an unrestricted free agent is the risk of injury.


...I would hope that Atlanta Hawks GM Rick Sund gets creative with an offer.  The guaranteed $75 million bothers me much less than the five-years.  Would I consider a shorter extension for yearly raises?  Is a three-year deal worth $50 million more palatable to me?  Maybe, I would accept a two-year extension with a player option and a trade kicker.  That kind of deal gives both sides flexibility without mortgaging my future or the Hawks’ future.


...I have to wonder what more I need to do to demand the respect of Hawks fans.  In the two biggest games in the past decade of Hawks history, I carried the team to wins.  I took overthe fourth quarter of Game 6 versus the Celtics in Round 1 of the 2009 playoffs.  Hawks fans were dancing in the streets and high-fiving each other outside of Philips Arena. 


Then, this year in Game 7 against the Heat, I scored, rebounded, hit big shots, and created for my teammates.  I was the best all-around player on the court.  We won a playoff series in a Game 7 for Pete’s sake!


...I do not see another All-Star on the roster in 2009-2010.  Will Al Horford be in better shape this year?  Can Horford be a consistent double figure scorer and more importantly a double figure rebounder? 


...I would be thinking about whether or not Atlanta can compete for an NBA championship in the next five years.


...I do not see how the Hawks are going to win with only a three man front court rotation.  Al Horford and Josh Smith are too small for their starting positions.


...I would be wondering if Josh Smith is ever going to mature and become an All-Star player.  Plus, I have to deal with this guy playing hard one night a week.


...I look at the roster and realize that again this year I am going to have to guard the other team’s best perimeter player in every close game.  Jeff Teague and Mike Bibby are not guarding Kobe, Hedo, or Vince Carter in crunch time. 


Marvin Williams can guard someone, you say?  Yes, he can if he plays in the big games.  A 23-year-old guys with back problems that walks like he is a 49-year-old cab driver worries me.


...I might tell my agent that Dwayne Wade and Lebron are going to re-sign with their teams.  Kobe is going to stay with the LakersChris Bosh will leave Toronto, but he is going to Miami or Cleveland for less money to play with one of these other stars.  The summer of 2010 might end up being the summer of Joe Johnson.