About last night: A tale of two JJ’s

  • So, you know how Jair Jurrjens was supposed to make his spring debut last night? It got rained out, so he’s pitching this afternoon instead. JJ will go for two innings, and then Tommy Hanson will take over. Oh, and that one guy who’s really good, Haywood, or Heyward, or something like that, he’s back in the lineup too.
  • The Hawks got a rare W on the road last night, beating the lowly Wizards 106-99. The team looked lost defensively at times and again got abused on the glass, but it was a road victory nonetheless. Michael Cunningham listed some of the negatives from the lackluster performance.
  • The “Joe to the Knicks” rumors persist. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News says there is already a “wink-wink” deal in place between Joe’s agent and Knicks GM James Dolan, noting that the two have been friends for 20 years. Thankfully, I don’t need to tell you how preposterous of a claim that is, because PeachtreeHoops has already done so:

After thinking for about four minutes on this Joe Johnson to the New York Knicks in a “wink, wink deal” because his agent has known Donnie Walsh for 20 years, I have decided it is a bit ridiculous. Not because Joe would never go to the Knicks, but for the reason given. Does Joe Johnson care about who his agent knows? Does he care about who he is friends with? Is that why he has an agent? No, Joe has an agent to get the most money at the place he most wants to be.

  • Mark Bradley also weighs in on the “JJ 2010 Sweepstakes”, including quotes from three separate NY papers speculating about the subject. Hilarious that Knicks fans and media have already resigned themselves to the fact that LeBron probably isn’t coming, and have already lowered their standards.

My take: If Joe Johnson decides to play elsewhere next season, I’ll be crushed. I’ve stated this before, he’s easily my favorite player. I love everything about Joe, his quiet demeanor, his humility, his refusal to act like a superstar, everything. Even his name is awesome to me.  He chose to come here, he wanted to carry this team, and he’s done so with incredible consistency. I don’t know what I will do if I see him in anything but Atlanta Hawk red-n-blue next year.

But I do know this, should he flee the team in free-agency, I won’t be because of some 20-year friendship his agent has with the Knicks’ GM. And it won’t be because he used to play for Mike D’Antoni. It will be because the Knicks (or whichever other team is foolish enough) will offer him more money than the Hawks are currently prepared to give. Joe has made it clear he wants a maximum deal, something greater than the 4-year, $60 million extension he turned down last summer. Rick Sund is leery of giving Joe a max contract (with ownership of his Larry Bird rights, the Hawks can offer Johnson a 6-year deal worth over $120 million, no other team can exceed 5-years or $105 M) and justifiably so, because with so many other young players a few years behind him on the collision course to free-agency, it could cripple the franchise’s financial flexibility down the road. It’s not a loyalty thing, it’s a “let’s not do what Isaiah Thomas would do” thing. Joe will be 35 by the end of a 6-year deal, getting paid like our franchise player, when by that point, it will very likely be Al Horford and Josh Smith (provided they won’t be swapped for peanuts by that time) who are carrying this team every night.

If the Knicks want to continue to buy their way into mediocrity for another decade, I say let ‘em. I love Joe, always will. And despite this, I’m prepared to watch him walk. Just another day in the life of an Atlanta sports fan.

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