When the Hawks meet with Joe Johnson in Los Angeles at the start of the free-agency negotiating period early tomorrow morning, they will offer him a six-year contract for the maximum amount allowed, according to a person with knowledge of their plans.If Joe Johnson accepts this contract (and unless he's done an extremely good job of investing and managing his earnings to date, he'd be crazy not to pass up an offer to make more than 150% of what he's earned, in total, over the first nine years of his career whatever his short-term goals in terms of winning a championship are), the Hawks will almost surely be looking to shed salary rather than add additional talent over the next two years.
This maximum contract will cost roughly $119 million total, with the 2010-11 amount being about $15.8 million. If Johnson accepts the offer that would put the Hawks at $64.3 million owed 10 players in 2010-11. Josh Childress playing on the qualifying offer would put them over the expected luxury tax line of $68 million. Just adding the minimum three players necessary to achieve the league's minimum roster size will put the Hawks within $1 million of the tax line as even minimum contracts to undrafted rookie free agents are counted at the value of the two-year veteran's minimum for luxury tax purposes.
Johnson's 2011-12 salary would be around $17.5 million which, combined with the increases due Al Horford ($1.7 million), Josh Smith ($800K), Marvin Williams ($800K), Mike Bibby ($650K), Zaza Pachulia ($500K), Jeff Teague ($100K), and Jordan Crawford ($65K), means the Hawks would owe approximately $60 million to eight players (plus whatever their first round pick would be guaranteed should they keep the pick) even after Jamal Crawford and Maurice Evans come off the books to the tune of $12.5 million.
Looking even further into the future, Johnson would be owed over $20 million per season for each of the last three years of this deal.
*Oh how I wish the beat writer's beanie was a real thing. Full disclosure: my blogger hat would (probably) be a porkpie.