The Atlanta Hawks offered Joe Johnson a six-year, $119 million contract Thursday morning, and sources close to the All-Star guard expect him to accept the max deal soon.Frank Isola of The New York Daily News explains Walsh's absence (preparing to meet with LeBron) and that the Knicks really want Joe Johnson:
The Hawks moved quickly at midnight ET to try to secure their franchise star and offered the contract that Johnson’s agent Arn Tellem sought from the organization. Sources say ownership OK’d the max offer and general manager Rick Sund delivered it in Los Angeles.
After receiving the Hawks’ offer, Johnson met with a contingent from the New York Knicks that included coach Mike D’Antoni, Johnson’s former coach with the Phoenix Suns. Knicks GM Donnie Walsh didn’t attend.
The Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks were pushing for meetings with Johnson on Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles where they could discuss possible sign-and-trade scenarios. The Chicago Bulls also have interest in Johnson.
The Knicks were hoping to get a verbal commitment from Johnson, but that scenario was losing steam by the minute once it was reported that the Hawks were prepared to offer Johnson a maximum contract over six years. Re-signing with Atlanta would mean an additional $30 million for Johnson over the length of the contract than the maximum deal the Knicks could offer the four-time All-Star. The Knicks are also meeting with former Wizards forward Mike Miller, who like Johnson, is represented by Arn Tellem.Arn Tellem may be the first big winner of free agency.
A person familiar with Johnson's thinking all but conceded that the guard would have no choice but to re-sign with the Hawks. Plus, there have been reports that Johnson, who was born and raised in Arkansas, has reservations about playing in New York and that he prefers his Atlanta lifestyle.
Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle speaks of Houston's interest in Joe Johnson in the past tense but adds the Miami Heat to the list of teams meeting with him:
The Atlanta Hawks were readying a maximum-contract offer for Joe Johnson that would likely keep him in Atlanta. Although the Rockets had considered pursuing Johnson, this could be good news for the Rockets if it takes Johnson out of a potential pairing with Bosh in New York.Braves & Birds joins the chorus questioning this decision, comparing the wisdom of offering Joe Johnson a max contract to Bob Bradley starting Ricardo Clark and Robbie Findley repeatedly in South Africa. Is this the month of supporting those who don't learn from their mistakes?
Johnson was expected to begin the process with the Hawks, with conversations also expected in short order with the Knicks, Heat and Dallas Mavericks.