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Thread: Johnson desires Atlanta

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    flexible and robust SoupIsGood's Avatar
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    Default Johnson desires Atlanta

    Star guard asks Phoenix to let him go
    Stein
    By Marc Stein
    ESPN.com
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    TORONTO -- Restricted free agent Joe Johnson, who next week plans to sign a lucrative offer sheet from the Atlanta Hawks, told ESPN.com on Friday night that he has asked the Phoenix Suns not to match the offer.


    Joe Johnson
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    Phoenix Suns
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    2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
    GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
    82 17.1 5.1 3.5 .461 .750

    In town for Steve Nash's charity game at Air Canada Centre, Johnson revealed that he directly informed Phoenix managing partner Robert Sarver earlier this week that he would prefer to continue his career as a Hawk.

    "We had a discussion," Johnson said in his first extended interview about his future since free agency began July 1.

    "I did tell them that."

    Asked why he wants to leave the Suns after a breakthrough season, for himself and the team, Johnson said: "It's a lot of things. How things were handled [with Johnson's contract] last summer, how things have been handled this summer. There's been some things going on that aren't great."

    Informed late Friday of Johnson's comments, Suns officials declined to respond.

    Johnson hoped to sign a six-year, $50 million extension with Phoenix before last season, but the talks stalled with the sides about $5 million apart. At the time, Sarver was hesitant to make another splashy expenditure after committing to front the $400 million purchase of the franchise and then signing Nash and Quentin Richardson to long-term deals worth a combined $110 million.

    The Suns offered Johnson a six-year deal in the $60 million range this summer, some $30 million less than he's eligible to receive from his current team. Hoping for significantly more after averaging 17.1 points and shooting 48 percent on 3-pointers to help Phoenix win a stunning 62 games and advance to the Western Conference finals, Johnson and agent Arn Tellem quickly entered into negotiations with the Hawks.

    According to sources close to the situation, Johnson is also unhappy with what he perceives as his standing as a "fourth wheel" behind the All-Star trio of Nash, Amare Stoudemire and Marion. Besides the opportunity to be the star man on its youthful roster, Atlanta is offering as much as the rules allow without holding Johnson's Larry Bird rights -- a frontloaded five-year deal worth an estimated $70 million, with an up-front payment as high as $20 million in Year 1.

    The Hawks have been planning for weeks to sign Johnson to an offer sheet as soon as the leaguewide moratorium on free-agent signings is lifted. That day, originally scheduled for July 22, is expected to come Tuesday.

    The Suns, who would have seven days to match an offer sheet, have consistently said they intend to do just that, and NBA front-office sources reiterated Friday that Phoenix hasn't changed its stance.

    Even Johnson, when asked to describe the Suns' reaction to his request to be set free, said: "They say they're going to match."

    Phoenix chairman Jerry Colangelo and team president Bryan Colangelo delivered that message to Tellem in a July 9 meeting during a summer-league game in Las Vegas. To increase its matching flexibility, Phoenix agreed Wednesday to trade center Jake Voskuhl to Charlotte and thus remove nearly $2 million from next season's payroll.

    It remains to be seen whether Johnson will indeed sign with the Hawks as soon the moratorium ends. If he is intent on going to Atlanta, he and Tellem could choose to hold off on signing the offer sheet in an attempt to draw an improved contract offer out of the Suns or to convince the Suns to engage Atlanta in sign-and-trade talks.

    A sign-and-trade could ultimately appeal to the Suns as well, if they decide over the weekend that Johnson's let-me-go plea is more than a mere statement of frustration with negotiations. It's unlikely they would be willing to lose one of their prized assets without compensation, even if management changes course and determines that it's best to sever ties with a player who says he wants to leave.

    Johnson, though, insists that his play and commitment to the Suns wouldn't be affected if a signed Hawks offer sheet results in a return to the desert.

    "I would come back and work as hard as I ever have," Johnson said. "If they match, all this stuff is behind me from that minute on. I hope everybody [in Phoenix] puts everything behind them, too."

    The prospect of Johnson switching teams made Friday's inaugural Steve Nash Foundation Charity Classic perhaps the last time Nash, Marion and Johnson will play together as teammates. Stoudemire was also scheduled to play but joined Philadelphia's Allen Iverson as a late withdrawal.

    "I'm really trying not to think about that," Nash said. "No one wants us to keep Joe more than I do. I've been talking to him and trying to persuade him to stay, because we really have a special thing going in Phoenix, but I want whatever he feels is best for him."

    Nash added that Johnson's new public stance doesn't change how much his teammates want him to stay, repeating his oft-cited belief that Johnson's shooting and ballhandling skills are as important to the Suns' success as Nash's chemistry with finishers Stoudemire and Marion.

    Marion echoed that, saying: "I understand that this is a business and everybody's got to do [what's best] for their family, but we're hoping Joe don't need nothing more than a Suns jersey next year."

    "They're in my ear every five minutes," Johnson said with a laugh, referring to persistent lobbying from Nash and Marion.

    Some league executives have privately questioned whether the Suns would indeed match a max offer sheet to Johnson, given Sarver's stated aversion to letting his annual payroll stray far beyond $50 million. With Johnson earning an average annual wage of $12 million and Stoudemire soon to receive a maximum contract extension that would kick in starting with the 2006-07 season, Phoenix would be in the rare position of carrying four players who earn roughly $50 million by themselves.

    If Johnson winds up with the Hawks, Nash plans to intensify his efforts to recruit Michael Finley of the Dallas Mavericks as a replacement. Unless the Mavericks can trade Finley first, in hopes of keeping Finley out of the Western Conference, they are expected to use the new amnesty clause to release the 32-year-old and spare themselves from nearly $52 million in luxury-tax payments.

    The Hawks, dating to last summer, have had no success in their high-dollar attempts to land a prominent restricted free agent. Yet they remain quietly hopeful that they'll soon be able to play Johnson as a point guard should they finally score this time.

    Johnson's playmaking ability is viewed by scouts as a critical component to the Suns' success. Phoenix doesn't have another dependable ballhandler to punish opponents who try to force the ball out of Nash's hands.

    "I love the idea," Johnson said. "I'd love that, having the ball in my hands. I think I'm a great shooter, but that's where I think I'm most effective, making decisions."

    Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, click here to send a question for possible use on ESPNEWS

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/column...arc&id=2120105
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    Go Paytherth! rel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    wow...they are gonna me stacked at the wing players

    childress
    smith
    johnson
    harrington
    williams

  3. #3
    canyoufeelit
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    dumbass. Enjoy winning 20 games, Joe!

  4. #4
    PacerNthaDesert
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    I just saw this on the local news, stunning. He must like the idea of living closer to home and maybe being the face of a franchise but still, losing sucks just ask Al Harrington.

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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    I can't even to begin to figure that rotation out:

    PG-Lue/Stoudemire
    SG-Johnson/Childress
    SF-Smith/Diaw
    PF-Williams/Harrington
    C- Scrub1/Scrub2

    I don't see Josh Smith or Marvin Williams NOT starting. Both of those guys are Atlanta's future.

    Looks like big Al may yet again be pushed back to the bench

    It wasn't about being the team everyone loved, it was about beating the teams everyone else loved.

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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    PA Announcer: "And now, for your ATLANTA KNICKS!!!!!!!"

    Quote Originally Posted by ucla31
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    wow...they are gonna me stacked at the wing players

    childress
    smith
    johnson
    harrington
    williams

  7. #7
    PacerNthaDesert
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    There's been crazy talks of having Joe be the primary PG for the Hawks. To me that doesn't seem right but you never know in hotlanta. If I was running the show I'd play like this:

    PG: Salim
    SG Smith
    SF Johnson
    PF Harrington
    C Scrub

    I smell 25 wins coming from that bunch..

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    Rebound King Kstat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    The coach of Atlanta is Mike Woodson, a Larry Brown deciple. No way does he let Joe Johnson run the point.

    Salim is also playing out of position at PG to begin with. He's definately not going to run the team. He'll only be the backup PG by default to begin with.

    It wasn't about being the team everyone loved, it was about beating the teams everyone else loved.

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    flexible and robust SoupIsGood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    They should try to trade Harrington for Magloire, and if not.... some young PG.
    You, Never? Did the Kenosha Kid?

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    PacerNthaDesert
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoupIsGood
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    They should try to trade Harrington for Magloire, and if not.... some young PG.

    They really do need to make a deal with the Hornets, Harrington and someone else for Magloire and Speedy Claxton. The hawks would be pretty decent with Speedy at the point and Mags in the middle to go along with Joe and the young wing players.

  11. #11
    foretaz
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    we all like to make fun of the hawks, and justifiably so....but billy knight has them closer to respectability than maybe some think....

    remember, they were banking on getting bogut in the lottery....

    bogut
    harrington
    josh smith
    childress
    joe johnson

    wouldnt have been the worst starting lineup in the world....with boris and salim coming off the bench...

    either way they are acquiring alot of quality young pieces...and the position they are in, ultimately its gonna be trades that eventually bring the thing together....get enuff young pieces that u are then able to make some trades for some quality veterans to teams that are over the cap....

    now, obviously signing johnson would go a long ways in speeding up the process....as would signing curry....

    but even if they fail to do so, if billy is given enuff time, it can happen....al is a great piece of trade bait, young talent with expiring contract....they need to get a pg or a center, or both, and should be able to get something even better than pollard and aj for him, but even that would help them out quite a bit...think about it...

    aj
    childress
    smith
    williams
    pollard...

    and salim and boris coming off the bench....definitely no world beaters...but theyre getting there....with a couple more solid lottery picks and a few strategic trades, and a lucky free agent signing and walaaa...respectability...

    remember something....atlanta is a great city, especially in young ball players minds....if they can get respectable then players will have more of a desire to get them there....lets hope ownership has enuff patience with billy to allow him the time to make it happen....im rooting for the ex pacer...

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    PacerNthaDesert
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    Quote Originally Posted by foretaz
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    remember something....atlanta is a great city, especially in young ball players minds....if they can get respectable then players will have more of a desire to get them there....lets hope ownership has enuff patience with billy to allow him the time to make it happen....im rooting for the ex pacer...

    You are absolutely right about Atlanta, once they get back to being a playoff contender and eventually making the playoffs, they will be able to attract any free agent they want. The fans will come if they have reason to, I don't blame the Atlanta residents one bit for not coming to the games. They haven't put much on the floor in recent years worth watching on a nightly basis for $2-6,000.

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    Rebound King Kstat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    yeah but those same fans didnt come to see the hawks when they were a 50+ win team every year.

    It wasn't about being the team everyone loved, it was about beating the teams everyone else loved.

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    PacerNthaDesert
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kstat
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    yeah but those same fans didnt come to see the hawks when they were a 50+ win team every year.
    True, but Atlanta has been a fast growing city the past 3 years so you never know.

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    Rebound King Kstat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    They're still the dead worst sports city in the US, bar none.

    Fun city to play around in, strip clubs as far as the eye can see, but a crappy sports town.

    A lot of free agents passed on the LAST respectable hawks era because they didnt want to play in front of a half-empty stadium 35 home games a year.

    It wasn't about being the team everyone loved, it was about beating the teams everyone else loved.

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    PacerNthaDesert
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kstat
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    They're still the dead worst sports city in the US, bar none.

    Fun city to play around in, strip clubs as fa as the eye can see, but a crappy sports town.

    Mike Vick!!!!!!


    I never understood why Atlanta was a bad sports town, they have top notch facilities.

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    Rebound King Kstat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    Quote Originally Posted by PacerNthaDesert
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    Mike Vick!!!!!!
    That's a special case. Jordan used to pack atlanta every year too. Vick is like the Jordan of football, popularity-wise.

    Fun city to play around in, strip clubs as fa as the eye can see, but a crappy sports town.
    Same reason New Orleans is a bad sports town, same reason LA is a bad sports town. Too many other things to do on a saturday night.

    It wasn't about being the team everyone loved, it was about beating the teams everyone else loved.

    Division Champions 1955, 1956, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
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  18. #18
    foretaz
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    ill never understand the sports fans in atlanta, and wont try to anymore....if they come, they come, though history says they probably wont....

    but atlanta is a rockin city....not many places in the country a young millionaire would prefer to call home....

    number of them are moving there, even when they play somewhere else...

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    Member Sollozzo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    JO has an Atlanta home I believe.

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    Go Paytherth! rel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    Quote Originally Posted by PacerFanAdam
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    JO has an Atlanta home I believe.
    yea...i think i can verify that, i saw him driving his land rover with a Georgia plate

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    Banned PacerMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    Quote Originally Posted by PacerNthaDesert
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    True, but Atlanta has been a fast growing city the past 3 years so you never know.
    Atlanta has been a fast growing city the past 20 years.

  22. #22
    Banned PacerMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    WHy is anyone discussing Atlanta's lineup when the Sun's have said they will match and Johnson has said this will all be behind him if they match.????

  23. #23
    Harmonica
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    Quote Originally Posted by PacerMan
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    Atlanta has been a fast growing city the past 20 years.
    Yeah, but it's really mushroomed in the last 10 years. When I left Atlanta in '93, the population was just under 2 million, now it's 4.2 million. I was there last weekend and the traffic is unbelievable.

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    How are you here? Kegboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson desires Atlanta

    Quote Originally Posted by Kstat
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    The coach of Atlanta is Mike Woodson, a Larry Brown deciple. No way does he let Joe Johnson run the point.

    Salim is also playing out of position at PG to begin with. He's definately not going to run the team. He'll only be the backup PG by default to begin with.
    Corbin started Diaw at point in the summer league. I wouldn't be surprised if they do some funky stuff.

    Still, after being at the game where Nash got hurt, I laugh at the idea of Johnson being anybody's primary PG.

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