One of the things I rallied against in the off-season was the max contract to Boozer/Amare + max contract to Joe Johnson off-season. It completely cripple your salary for years, and you'd probably not have a shot at winning a title.
Well Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have stepped up a lot more than I anticipated, and looking at this team right now, without Boozer, they look like they're a SG short. It's hard to imagine Atlanta admitting they screwed up with Johnson this early, especially when they can make the playoffs this year and probably the second round again, but if so, would you take back Joe Johnson and his monster six year deal?
Before you scream "hell yes", let me point out the realistic pitfalls of such a trade. First, you're giving Korver, Brewer, and Watson to get Johnson (only way to match salaries as Atlanta's not taking back Deng if they're dumping salary), and then you're filling out that depth with minimum salary guys.
That leaves the team with the folowing:
Taj Gibson, Keith Bogans, James Johnson, Omer Asik, and some minimum salary guy who becomes the backup PG.
Also, the team now, can not add anyone to it that costs more then the minimum and will not be a player in trades for the next two seasons. We won't be able to absorb more costs, this roster already will be absurdly expensive, and I doubt seriously that we'd consider the trade financially as it is, but if we do, we're certainly not adding even more onto the payroll.
So does that core get it done? Bare in mind that you're going to lose Gibson after two more seasons, because we won't be able to afford him as a free agent, so your window before losing your first major asset is two seasons.
Prior to July, prior to seeing the new improved Derrick Rose, I would have said that doesn't get it done, and it not only fails to get it done, but locks us into not getting it done.
Now, I'm not so sure. With Rose a clear top 10 player at this point, this group looks like a top two or three team in the NBA to me if Boozer and Johnson can remain relatively healthy. If not, I have to say the odds of putting together a better team seem painfully small at the very least.
The question really becomes how much does Joe Johnson have left in the tank. He's on the books for five seasons at massive money after this season, and so far he's only putting up a PER of 15.4 which is fairly mediocre, especially for a high usage player.
On the other hand, Johnson on the Bulls provides much of what the team needs. He's a secondary playmaker (and likely the backup PG in all reality), and he's a smooth shooter off the ball (even if you aren't maximizing his ability in that role). He's a quality passer, and while he's not an eltie defender, he has good size at the position.
Pursuing Johnson is an "all in" move, because in two years, his contract will be immovable except for utter crap, much like Boozer's will likely be. The Bulls will probably be in the tax with just paying the starting five in this scenario, and certainly won't have any real assets afterwards.
However, you have to go all in eventually, and I wonder if the Bulls are really likely to have a better chance later. The Lakers might go away in a couple years, but the Heat won't. The Heat will likely get even stronger in two seasons, and as much as people have enjoyed their four losses, the Heat have point differentials that mark them as perhaps the top team in the league even with two losses to the Celtics.
I doubt the Hawks are interested yet (though they probably should be), but throwing that out of the equation, are you willing to go all in on Johnson knowing you're giving up the entire bench and are limited to more or less no other additions for the next three seasons?