Would you take on Joe Johnson's contract?

The Chicago Bulls needed more perimeter scoring. They needed more ball-handling. They needed more play making. Joe Johnson can provide these things.

We mocked the contract Joe Johnson signed this summer, called Atlanta stupid, and thought I wouldn't touch that with a 10 foot pole.

I still think it's possibly the worst contract in the NBA, but honestly, if he had landed with Chicago, overpaid as he is, I think they might have won the title last season.

Given that statement, would you trade for Joe Johnson now? I will throw out the following caveat. Let's assume that the NBA does not go to a hard cap system. Such a system would destroy any question over whether to trade for Johnson.

However, let's assume that the new system looks similar to the present one with a lower percentage of BRI in place, and that there is no individual cap on teams, but just significantly less total money going out to the players.

Let's also assume the trade looks like this:
Joe Johnson for Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, and C.J. Watson as the "talent" going out. Bogans, Pargo, and Lucas may also be thrown in to match salaries.

The Hawks would likely agree to such a deal, as they're unlikely to make it as far as the second round of the playoffs again, and Joe Johnson certainly isn't drawing crowds into the stadium anyway. If they could reset this thing and get out of his 5 years 104 million or so they probably would.

The idea of trading for one of the worst contracts in the league is typically ludicrous. Unless.... it's the deal that gets you an NBA championship.

Make no mistake, the Chicago Bulls are a better team with Joe Johnson than with Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver. I trust Joe Johnson to create plays and make shots when the defense overloads on Derrick Rose.

He'd also save significant wear on Rose by leading the offense at periods, and the Bulls could shift lineups to keep one of him or Rose in at all times and always have a quality scorer/ball handler on the floor.

Last summer, I thought the worst thing the Bulls could do was to lock themselves into a Johnson/Boozer core with their cap room. Such a core would be highly overpaid and unlikely to have enough talent to win. I didn't count on Derrick Rose ascending to an MVP level of play.

Such a core would still be highly overpaid, but I think they'd raise their chances of winning considerably.

Jerry Reinsdorf said he'd pay for a team that could win a title. The Mavericks led the NBA in salary last year around 91 million. The Lakers led the league in salary the previous year at around the same price. If the Bulls are willing to pay for a title, than a number around 90 million should be reasonable.

Getting a guy like Joe Johnson, massively inflated deal and all, is the type of move that can put you over the top. He's only available, because you have to pay him 40-50 million more than he's worth over the next five seasons.

Maybe the Bulls are only role players away, but if they're a star away, Joe Johnson's a star who's almost certainly available.

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  • I wouldn't make that trade. Simply because you'd be putting all your chips in to win it within the next year or two. Johnson will never get any better, but (like Boozer) he will get worse over the duration of the contract since he's in his 30's and unless he's a freak like Ray Allen (he isn't) he'll be continuing his decline.

    With the centerpiece of the team being Rose, the Bulls should be taking the long view here. I'd rather they focus on putting together a team with the core generally being roughly the same age as Rose. And with Deng and Noah, they're mostly there. Assuming Taj stays with the team after his rookie contract, and Asik staying around a few years, they've got a good start. Obviously, some of those players might be shipped out as part of a trade, but I think barring that, they'll all remain Bulls for a while. The great thing about the Brewer/Korver/Watson contracts is that they're all short. Which means either the money will come off the payroll after the contracts end after next season (assuming the Bulls don't opt-in), or they can be trade fodder to get a younger piece to be the SG of the future, whoever that is.

    I definitely want the Bulls' brass to be looking at the next 5-7 years rather than a more immediate focus of next season or 2. And acquiring Johnson basically means if they don't win it all in the next couple years, they're going to be unable to get better with both Boozer's and Johnson's contracts (plus Rose's, Noah's and Deng's). It's already going to be a tight situation without Johnson's contract on their books.

  • In reply to kozzer:

    I agree that taking a long view is important. You probably have about eight seasons to win with Derrick Rose, and the rest of the pieces are young enough to hang around too for the most part.

    The problem with that is that we still don't have the type of assets to really go out and get a younger, long term SG. Those types of guys are usually gotten in the draft or via trade by other young long term assets.

    It's possible that Asik or Taj might fetch one, but just as likely that they won't.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    They have a chance in having those assets several years down the road. You are right, they don't have them now, so Joe would be a great star level stop gap.

  • I think we should get Joe Johnson if we can by dumping some spare parts. Anyhow, this has to happen after the new CBA and the Bulls will have a better idea of whether to go for a veteran like Joe Johnson or can steal a younger and similar player like Mayo or Monta Ellis. We have seen again and again that NBA titles are won by veterans in their late 20s or early 30s as the primary players. And, Joe Johnson is probably frustrated being #1 option and losing. He seems to want to be Pippen to MJ's Rose.
    Forget the salaries as the Bulls are anyhow above the limit and if it fails....he will be an expiring contract in 3/4 years from now.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Actually he has five more seasons left on his deal.

  • From a fan perspective, how could you NOT make this trade? The Bulls dump 3 role players and a sack of marbles for a legit starting SG! Under the old rules, the trade is a no-brainer. An owner with a TRUE desire to WIN a ring would make this trade without question. It's not like the Bulls will have cap space anytime soon! But lets be serious, there is NO WAY JR open his wallet to make this trade. This is why the Bulls will ALWAYS struggle to win a ring. We are in a very similar situation as Dallas and overspending for GOOD - NOT GREAT players is the only way to beat a team of stars like LA or Miami. How the hell are fans against this trade!?

  • In reply to Dajody1:

    It will depend somewhat on the new salary cap rules, but I think if the soft cap stays in place, it's a trade you make and soak up the bad salary.

  • Johnson's on the books for 5 more seasons, at the following salaries:
    $18,038,573
    $19,752,646
    $21,466,719
    $23,180,792
    $24,894,865

    If the new CBA sets a lower/harder cap, the he's by himself approaching 50% of the salary cap.

  • In reply to kozzer:

    First off, the lower/hard cap will SLOWLY be implemented....they are not going to lower the cap from 58 to 40 million in one season. If you read what I wrote, I said under the OLD rules the trade is a no-brainer.

  • Even if we did trade for joe johnson, i dont think we can beat Miami. D. Rose is only 22 no point in rushing to win a championship. We should trade for OJ Mayo instead.

  • I'd rather have Mayo as well, but I would bet Johnson is absolutely available for the deal I created. Who knows what it would take to get Mayo if he'll be available at all.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/NickSwagyPYoung/status/106067690518626304

    Business is good...lol.

  • The Hawks will either be dumping him because they have to have the cap space, or they will be trying to rebuild. In the first case, there is no way the bulls will have the room under the same system to take his salary on. In the second scenario, the Hawks can probably get a lot more value than what you have the bulls offering. At a minimum, I think the Hawks ask for Gibson or Asik. (An Asik/Horford front line would be pretty tough to beat.)

    However, if the new CBA has another Allan Houston clause, I could definitely see the bulls dumping Boozer and signing Johnson when he gets cut. In that scenario, if the bulls could trade Boozer for somebody like Rashard Lewis, cut him and resign Boozer after he gets cut, that could be a pretty sweet deal for the bulls assuming Johnson and Boozer come back and sign for small money deals since they will already be getting their money. Suddenly the Bulls would be a bad matchup for everybody.

    Joe Johnson will still have to move the ball and be a lot more efficient than he has been in the last few years on offense. If he thought he could come in and hold the ball for 20 seconds before hoisting an 18 footer, I'd rather have Korver and Brewer.

  • Like the player, hate the long max contract. The Bulls do not want to make the same mistake of the Magic, putting declining older players around Howard was a disaster for them. The best thing to do is to look at a 5 year window and marry Rose with a young guard like James Harden, Mayo, E. Gordon. Watching Boozer barely jump off the ground is painful enough....although Joe Johnson is one heck of a player if the price and years were right.

  • Prefaced by reminding myself that the regular season may very well not even happen. That said, I can see the interest in any legit starting/quality SG in the wake of Keith Bogans & Co., but how desperate do you have to be to take on that obscene contract? Of course if Joakim can bounce back from injuries and likewise Boozer, and those two guys can resemble more what their careers/recent past have shown then the Bulls could be in a position to win themselves an NBA chanpionship. Assuming that happens then adding Joe makes sense from a winning perspective. Now if there remains an unlimited salary cap/luxury tax, and the Bulls/Reinsdorf goes Lakers/Dallas on us as Doug mentions then I guess I'd be excited if we got Joe, and went for the ring. But I doubt the new CBA is going to see any team being able to spend $90 Mil, but who knows?

    I will say my dream scenario would be the Bulls adding two offensively talented players including depth in Joe Johnson and Tayshaun Prince ala the M.L.E. Similar to Dallas adding Shawn Marion and Chandler both Prince and Johnson are solid/comitted defenders. Some might question Johnson for impact/turnovers, but he's certainly an adequate defender, and his abilities only multiply in a high energy Bulls/Thibs defensive atmosphere. Plus he thrives on transition situations both innitiating and finishing.

    I'd be shocked if the new CBA allowed the Bulls cap room to add Johnson, and keep their core/necessary pieces otherwise it's one step forward and one or two steps back. But if they could, and Reinsdorf would go to Dallas/Laker spending levels then adding a Joe Johnson and another Shawn Marion type playoff winner/all around good player in Prince would give the Bulls an excellent chance at an NBA Championship. I still personally like the idea of Boozer saving his health and defensive liabilities by playing less regular season minutes including some at center. Luol has shown he can add muscle/bulk, and I'd play him some as a speed advantage stretch four. And I'd definitely have Derrick playing some two with Joe bringing the ball up, and switching at time defensively when Kobe etc. comes to town. With Derrick freed from predictable/focal point PG double teams, and pick and roll defensive dance on PG's, he could just explode offensively, and propell the Bulls to the title..

  • I love the idea of having Johnson on this team, but I agree with kozzer's first posting. You add him now and you are looking at a two to three year window. If they don't win in that time then they are stuck much like the Hawks are now. I agree with Roadwarrior about how he would help Rose, but I think you could find that help elsewhere. I still like they idea of making a trade offer to the Hawks for Hinrich. Korver, Watson, and Pargo for Hinrich and a first sounds good to me for both parties. Hinrich could let Rose play off the ball and he could lead the team when Rose is out. I think people need to realize that adding a superstar is not always the answer to every question.

  • This is a no brainer for the Bulls. Not sure why the Hawks would do it. They signed him just last season, and for reason, not sure that much has changed.

  • I would only take on Johnsons contract if Boozer was going the other way. We just don't need Boozers offense(suspect as that is) with Jonhson on board. Noah, Asik and Taj man the 4,5 as a defensive force, we score from the point and wings.

    While I agree that Johnson is the worst contract in the NBA, and almost up there with Rashard Lewis's Orlando contract, I would rather have Johnsons talent at the 2(particularly when paired with Rose) than Boozers Bozo act at 4.

    Maybe we can expand the trade an ship the guys you identified and get Josh Smith also. A bit of an attitude problem, but a superior athletic talent to both Deng and Boozer, who would give us a vastly superior and flexible front line rotation all the way around.

    We start Rose, Johnson, Deng, Smith and Noah, with Taj, Asik, Butler as the core of our bench, we just need to pick up a good combo guard to spell Rose and Johnson, Hinrich perhaps.

    That team gives anybody a run for their money, scares the shit out of Miami, and we get to keep Mirotic and the Charlotte pick in the pipeline for Johnsons and Dengs decline and the second half of Roses career. That sounds like a good immediate plan while still planning for the long term and a shot at a Rose Dynasty to rival Jordans.

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