James Johnson will reportedly be sent to the Bulls affiliated Iowa Energy of the National Basketball Developmental League on Thursday, "according to a source close to the situation," Scott Scroeder reported at FanHouse:
With a trip to Des Moines, Johnson will have a chance to show that he's
worth taking a flier on by another team if coach Tom Thibodeau can't
find a spot for him in his rotation.
In the D-League, Johnson will need to prove that he's learned enough
during his time in the NBA -- and that he still has plenty of potential
-- to make him worth the gamble. Specifically, Johnson will need to show
that he can play on the wing, knock down mid-range jumpers and play
defense while showing that his basketball IQ is up to par at this level.
Perhaps more importantly, it's crucial that he's able to keep off the
20 pounds he worked to lose over the summer in order to reinforce his
dedication to someday contributing meaningful minutes in the NBA.
If Johnson isn't in shape, and the Bulls haven't put a
minutes-requirement on Energy coach Nick Nurse, it would not be
surprising to see the second-year pro come off the bench in Iowa. The
conference leaders with a 19-7 record, Iowa already boasts a bit of a
logjam at the forward positions with Othyus Jeffers, Marqus Blakely,
Stanley Robinson all near Johnson's talent level.
Having played only 10.2 MPG in 12 games this season, JJ's shot 42.5% with a monster 28.5% Turnover Rate in his second season since being drafted 16th overall in the 2009 NBA Draft. There's no question that he's been a good rah-rah teammate on the bench, but his game is clearly a liability every time he's stepped onto the court.
This decision's come months too late, but it's been no secret the Bulls have kept JJ on the table in all trade talks.
remaining question is who the Bulls will acquire to fill the roster
spot. With Joakim Noah out for about three-to-four more weeks, the Bulls
are left with only 11 active players after sending JJ down. The
decision marks as an indicator there is more than one available player
they're likely looking to sign in the mid-season.
EDIT: I was wrong. This wasn't the Bulls primary decision, Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago reported on Twitter. JJ requested the assignment which is expected to last two weeks:
Source confirms AOL Fanhouse report about James Johnson's expected D-League assignment; says JJ requested stint, expected to be 2 weeks
EDIT2: Bulls.com confirmed JJ's assignment shortly after these reports. "Assigning James to the D-League gives him an opportunity to play an
extended amount of minutes and will be good for his overall growth,"
said General Manager Gar Forman.