$119 million is $119 million.
But what does accepting the offer say about Johnson?
Simply put, it says that Johnson just really isn’t worth it.
Johnson was supposed to wait and see what the other free agents (LeBron, Wade, Stoudemire, and Bosh) would do before making his decision.
However, Johnson couldn’t wait. His agent, Arn Tellem, confirmed to the Associated Press that Johnson isn’t going anywhere.
Tellem told the AP that Joe was very impressed by the team’s commitment to him with the offer they made, and their continued commitment to pursue a championship.
But here is what I think happened.
After his dreadful performance in the playoffs, I really think teams just didn’t want Joe, unless he could be coupled with Wade or James. No team wanted to give Johnson a max offer because he doesn’t deserve a max offer.
With James and Wade taking their time in making their decisions, it became clear that Johnson is not enough of an influence on the two of them, and he could have been left as the number one with the Knicks or the Bulls.
We all witnessed how Johnson works. He's a great regular season player, but has no heart in the playoffs.
If you are the Hawks, however, having Johnson as the number one seems to fit fine in Atlanta.
Sure, it will be fine to overpay Johnson, who is already 29, for the next six years. It will be fine to sit and watch as the current Hawks roster blows up in the playoffs.
Johnson and Josh Smith will cost the Hawks $30 million alone next season, and that total gets even more expensive in the years to come.
Smith will make $11.6 million next year, $12.4 million in 2011, and $13.2 million in 2012. Jamal Crawford will also make over $10 million, meaning three players will account for $40 million of the Hawks total payroll. And not a single one of them is an elite NBA performer.
To make matters worse, the real thing Atlanta needs, a true center, is no longer an option for the Hawks. All of their money is tied up in guards and a forward that can’t shoot.
I understand that Smith is one of the league’s most exciting players, and Johnson and Crawford can light up the scoreboard, but those qualities don't win rings. There has to be something else as well.
Larry Drew's position as the new head coach doesn’t give me much hope, either. He was Mike Woodson’s assistant. What could Drew bring that is different from Woodson? It’s his first year as a head coach.
I just find it hard to believe that there was no other option out there for Atlanta besides Johnson.
There had to have been a sign-and-trade that would allow Atlanta to get back a scorer and a big man. With those pieces, we could compete against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in May and June.
This is just the latest example of how the Hawks’ front office wants to appear to be building a title contender, rather than actually trying to win one.