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.