Locking up Joe Johnson this offseason was huge for the Atlanta Hawks. Some may argue that the Hawks overpaid by signing Johnson to a $124 million, six-year deal, but sometimes you can't put a price on team chemistry.
Johnson has been a key player for the Hawks, averaging over 21 points in five seasons and starting 376 of 410 games in that span. Johnson is a great team player, a terrific shooter, and an important team leader.
Keeping Johnson was integral for another Hawks postseason push in 20011.
It's obvious that Johnson is the Hawks' go-to guy during crunch time. But too often last season, Johnson was counted on to take over games when the Hawks' high-flying, fast paced offense stalled.
In the Hawks' embarrassing melt-down against the Orlando Magic in the second round of the playoffs last season, Johnson averaged just 13 points a game. He also shot just 33 percent from the field.
Johnson's performance was so bad, that he heard boos from disgruntled Hawks' fans in Phillips Arena.
With a new head coach, in Larry Drew, Johnson won't be forced to handle the ball so often during the stretch. A more balanced offense will take some of the pressure off Johnson and allow him to see more open looks.
Money talks, but Joe Johnson has a chip on his shoulder. He knows he has something to prove and expect him to have another great season in 2011, as the Hawks try to finish among the top teams of the East.