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Joe Johnson

Seeing is believing, as the Lakers take an unreal victory in Brooklyn

(A MAMBINO live report from Brooklyn for the Nets-Lakers game last night)
 
“Unreal. Just…unreal.”
 
I slumped back in my seat time after time, stunned at the game that was taking place in front of me. Quarter after quarter, the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers continued to shake convention in a contest that couldn’t be any less believable. Still, I whispered in amazement for 48 minutes, sometimes with a smile on my face and others with a bewildered scowl, hands atop my head.
 
The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Brooklyn Nets in their first visit to the Barclays Center last night, 92-83, in a game the Lakers had to have, Brooklyn couldn’t have tried harder to give away and ultimately, Pau Gasol would love to have back.
 
The Barclays Center is merely a 30-minute train ride away from my apartment. This gigantic iron behemoth is brilliantly located in the middle of New York’s second most heralded borough, crossing almost a dozen subway lines and the Long Island Railroad. It stands out from the surrounding environ of a typical urban center, as if Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum lost the war on July 4th and a spaceship landed in the middle of the BK. The Barclays Center is convenient, marvelous, and most importantly, thanks to its NBA tenants, cheap.
 
Despite a move out of the swamp in New Jersey to a brilliant, shining, $1 billion dollar arena, the now Brooklyn Nets are struggling to find their place in NYC. Attendance is up to 16th this season, a solid upward trend from finishing no better than 25th in crowd support since 2009. However, like with any expansion or relocation franchise, it’s been difficult to find a fervent, dedicated fan base when a team has little tradition, few marketable stars, and generations of followers tied to another organization. New Yorkers are still very dedicated to their beloved Knicks, and the ticket price to see the now contending Bockers is sky high. For the playoff-bound Nets? There’s a far smaller mortgage to be paid for attending a game in Brooklyn. Knowing all of this before showing up to Barclays tonight, I shouldn’t have been so surprised by the swath of Lakers fans in front of me.
 
Still, even high fives from strangers clad in Lakers hats and headbands couldn’t distract me from the task at hand–defeating the then 28-19 Brooklyn Nets. LA came into the game short-staffed, with Dwight Howard missing his second consecutive game due to a re-aggravated shoulder injury and Metta World Peace due to a bogus suspension for “punching” Brandon Knight during Sunday’s Pistons game. Chief amongst my concerns were how anyone would be able to check the 6’7″ Joe Johnson, if Reggie Evans would now gobble up 25 boards instead of 16 now that Dwight was ruled out and if Steves Nash and Blake would just spot Deron Williams the 20 he would eventually score.
 
Amazingly–unreal-ly–this never came to pass.
 
(Read the rest at Silver Screen and Roll after the jump)… Read more...

Out of the Swamp and Into the BK – Brooklyn Nets Preview

Starting Five: PG Deron Williams, SG Joe Johnson, SF Gerald Wallace, PF Kris Humphries, C Brook Lopez

Key Bench Players:
PG CJ Watson, SG MarShon Brooks, F Mirza Teletovic, PF Reggie Evans, PF/C Andray Blatche, G Tyshawn Taylor


Notable offseason additions: SG Joe Johnson, F Mirza Teletovic, PF Reggie Evans, PF/C Andray Blatche, G Tyshawn Taylor


Notable offseason subtractions: PG Jordan Farmar, SG DeShawn Stevenson, G/F Gerald Green, G/F Anthony Morrow, PF Johan Petro

It was a huge factor,” Williams told us about the Nets moving to Brooklyn. “I don’t think I would have even thought about staying if it (the Nets franchise) was staying in New Jersey.Yahoo!

I had never been to Brooklyn until the press conference, and that was something like I’ve never experienced before. It was unbelievable — all the fans coming out to welcome us. It was something I’ve never been a part of.  I had a great time.“–Joe Johnson from SI.com

The one thing Brook [Lopez] always said was he wanted to play in the building [the $1 billion Barclays Center] when it opens“–Nets GM Billy King from ESPN

Whether or not you believe that the wholesale changes to the Nets franchise will make them into a title contender, there’s no doubt that the Nets are made better this year merely by moving out of the New Jersey wasteland and into a civilized country. 

The team recently made their debut on the Barclays Center hardwood, a sparkling, state of the art arena located right on top of one of the busiest public transportation hubs in all of New York City. The Nets were the ugly, toothless, red-headed, lice-ridden step-sister of metro area sports; from their location in the decrepit IZOD Center (formerly Continental Airlines Arena) and later the Prudential Center in Newark, both located well out of city limits to tepid fan support even at the team’s early decade zenith. The former New Jersey franchise had the least cache out of any professional sports team attached to the back page of the Post, including the anonymous New York Islanders

(All of that was very politically correct–the summary is that no one gave a shit about the Nets. Last year, BockerKnocker and I went to a Houston Rockets/Nets game for $2.50 a seat. That wasn’t a typo. Two dollars and fifty cents. Needless to say, I happily footed the entire bill)

Ever since the team‘s move to Brooklyn was made official with the ribbon cutting ceremony at Barclays, the striking black and white BK Nets gear has been ubiquitous around town. With their ownership attached to the greatest rapper alive and their location in the hippest part of town, the Nets somehow became a source of…credibility, a noun that has rarely been associated with a franchise that ranks amongst the country’s most disgraceful. So far, fan support has followed, as evidenced by full arenas in preseason games and general excitement throughout the five boroughs. 

However, like any major market with several competing teams vying for front page attention, the Nets have to actually put it on the floor and churn out consistent victories to matter. To do so, they’ve fortified a team that’s won 58 games in the last three years combined. This past summer, the Nets managed to re-sign four of their starters, including Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and the Shaquille O’Neal-endorsed “best big man in the NBA” Brook Lopez, as well as traded for six-time All-Star shooting guard Joe JRead more...

GM Danny Ferry’s Makeover of Mediocrity – Atlanta Hawks Season Preview


Starting Five: PG Jeff Teague SG Lou Williams SF Kyle Korver PF Josh Smith C Al Horford

Key Bench Players: G Devin Harris, C Zaza Pachulia, C Johan Petro, G Anthony Morrow, G DeShawn Stevenson, F Jordan Williams, G John Jenkins

Key Additions: G John Jenkins, G Anthony Morrow, G Devin Harris

Key Departures: G Joe Johnson, F Marvin Williams

The Hawks bringing in new GM Danny Ferry ended up being an inspired move that had a lot of risk initially. There’s no questioning Ferry’s pedigree from his time on the Spurs, but he learned some tough lessons in Cleveland. Desperate to win now in order to please LeBron, Ferry went anti-Thunder and surrounded his star with overpriced free agents like Larry Hughes. From that point forward, he had no choice but to speculatively flip huge supporting contracts for other massive contracts, getting more talent on paper by taking on more money. Cleveland never got that title and we all know where its superstar went.
They have been a perfectly respectable 3-6 seed in the East for years, but they were never a threat to be contenders. They were entrenched in mediocrity despite having some intriguing assets. Ferry came into an organization without a definitive direction. Making bold moves out of the gate, he traded his franchise centerpiece, Joe Johnson, for Anthony Morrow, a first-round pick, and expiring contract floatsam like Johan Petro. JJ is still an elite player, but he’s not worth 4 yrs/$90M, especially for a team mired in a middling position.

Afterwards, he traded overpaid, erratic Marvin Williams (2 yrs/$16M) for former All-Star in Devin Harris, who could become a great bench player if he can get his groove back. Signing Lou Williams for a reasonable contract was masterful, as he can replace the offensive punch for a fraction of the price, even if he’s not the same defender or playmaker. Finally, Ferry then picked up 3 point ace and Ashton Kutcher look-a-like Kyle Korver’s 1-year deal for cash and got rid of Willie Green. His draft pick – John Jenkins – lit up the summer league and has the chance to start this year.

Because Ferry did all this and still preserved $32M in cap space (minus Teague, Lou, Jenkins and the next draft pick) for next summer, the Hawks are being lauded as the darlings of the off-season. It should say a lot about the state of the league that a team can get worse and trade its best player while being the toast of the Mid-Market Teams We Pay Attention to On Slow News Days. In my Miami season preview, I talked about the practical impact of the new CBA and said that it was going to increase polarization in the league by creating two classes of teams: those in a temporary spend cycle with a championship window and those racing to the bottom to destroy their team.

In retrospect, Ferry’s Flyers are a third type of team likely to inhabit the middle: a pedestrian team taking a short-term talent hit to open up a strategic window of cap space. Although getting rid of Johnson’s contract is cause for celebration, the reason that Ferry is receiving accolades is because he gets to take the Big Swing. You know the Big Swing – setting up every superfluous contract to expire at the same time and hope it inspires a spontaneous superstar congregation. New York and Miami did it first, resulting in franchise-rebuilding hauls. The Hawks want to be that team in 2013.

Initially, the speculation was that Dwight would want to join close friend Josh Smith and could bring Chris Paul’s connection to the city along with him. While that scenario has become unlikely, the Hawks have greatly improved their long-term prRead more...

Instant Trade Analysis: Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets get: SG Joe Johnson

Atlanta Hawks get: SF Anthony Morrow, G Jordan Farmar, G DeShawn Stevenson, F Jordan Williams, PF Johan Petro, 2013 First-Round draft pick (via Houston)

The casual NBA fan might not know who Joe Johnson is, but (and I hope I’m not overstating this) this trade changes the face of the NBA as we’ve predicted it.

Too much? I don’t think so.

Looking first at the two teams involved, this has to be considered a win-win situation. The Nets now get another multi-time All-Star to pair potentially with Deron Williams, in addition to a newly re-signed Gerald Wallace. Joe Johnson is hilariously overpaid ($90 million over the next 4 seasons), but regardless of the unintentional comedy of his deal, there’s no denying he’s a great talent, especially when put aside one of the top three point guards in the league in a second-option role. JJ hasn’t played with a legitimate point since he was traded by the Suns in 2005, so it’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts seven seasons after being with such imposters such as Jeff Teague and Mike Bibby. Brooklyn badly needed more talent to surround Deron Williams with, and after a doomsday scenario of watching their one All-Star walk away to Dallas after essentially using three lottery picks to acquire him in the first place, the Nets could be keeping three All-Stars. Teaming Johnson, Deron and Wallace with Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks and perhaps a capable power forward like Kris Humphries, the Nets might have just turned themselves into a four-seed. Miraculous.

For the Hawks, this is a pure salary dump, plain and simple. Farmar, Stevenson and Morrow are all solid rotation players, but truly nothing more than that. New GM Danny Ferry is doing what we here at MAMBINO have criticized the wayward Hawks have always implored them to do; choose a direction. The Hawks have come back with the same exact squad that’s gotten bounced in the second round for four seasons now, with minimal changes or improvements. In short, they’ve gone nowhere for several seasons. Their inability to garner a legitimate point guard or center for the past four years has been maddening as an objective observer. What Ferry has done is escape the AWFUL contract that former GM Rick Sund penned Joe Johnson to, and will now be able to make moves towards building a more complete, competitive and deep team. The Hawks could either stick with some of the pieces they have and build around them, seeing as they’ve now have the ability to extend Josh Smith to keep him with Al Horford and Jeff Teague for the near future, and then bring in another piece that makes this into an actual contender. Conversely, they could trade Josh Smith, blow up their core, keeping Horford and start over while the Heat, Celtics and Knicks get older. They weren’t going to be able to do either with with Joe Johnson’s cap-murdering deal on the docket.

Moving past the actual teams in the deal, this trade sends shockwaves throughout the league. Here they are:

Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard had “one team on his list”. And now that’s no longer a reality. With Gerald Wallace’s new deal, as well as Joe Johnson’s and presumably a Brook Lopez extension, the Nets no longer have room for a salary of Dwight Howard’s magnitude.

Some critics might point to the fact that Dwight wanted to go to the Nets, and that had they waited it out, he’d eventually be on the Brooklyn roster. However, a couple mitigating factors complicated that approach.

1). With Der… Read more...

Why the Atlanta Hawks Deserve Your Hate

There are four types of teams in the NBA. Some of them fall into categories relative to your particular franchise allegiance, and some stay the same no matter what the colors you cheer for.

1) The franchises you love

A pretty easy one; the city you live in, the region your family is from, the college you went to or the place your spouse grew up. The team you live and breathe and die with, the one that gives you fits late at night and effects you deep into the summer.

2) The franchises you hate because of the franchises you love

Any team that would threaten the superiority of the team you love. Perhaps it’s the crew that prevents your beloved franchise from reaching superiority. You hate them viscerally, like your DNA was programmed with the genomes that set your senses ablaze when those colors came across your corneas. You hate because you love.

3) The franchises you respectfully hate

And then there is the point where the rivalry is no longer a simple issue of them being better than you, or you trying to be better than them. It’s a rivalry steeped in deep tradition that will permeate through the histories of both regions for as long as organized ball is played. Hundreds of games have been contested, and with it, championships and accolades for both of those teams have followed. But through it all, you come to hatefully respect them on the opposite side of the field. They know the thrilling rush of victory, and the desolate emptiness of defeat. In all of your hostility and antagonism, there’s a unity of spirit that can’t be denied. You hate them, with respect, because in the end, you’re all a part of a shared tradition.

4) And then there’s the franchises you just hate…because they’re awful

There comes a point in your love of the game transcends the simple loyalty you have towards a certain team. You begin to love the sanctity of the sport that it inhabits. You start to see players as not just opponents, but also through the prism of how they represent the principles of the game you love so much. Oddly enough, the more you become invested in your team, it seems the more objective you become about the sport it’s in.

As such, the hate flows from you like a barbed Tupac lyric. Teams, players and management that you would otherwise find benign, as they have no daily, weekly or even monthly impact on your sports-watching life, begin to anger you than you have any logical cause to be. They consistently make the wrong moves, misevaluate players, hire the wrong coaching staffs and say the most offensive statements possible in the media. You hate them because they violate the sanctity of the sport you take so seriously. You hate them because they are terrible. Simple enough.

This is why I hate the Atlanta Hawks. And you should do.

The Atlanta Hawks, as currently constituted, have never won an NBA title. Their predecessors, the St. Louis Hawks, were one-time champions and the only team to defeat the Boston Celtics in the Finals until the 1980’s Lakers. Since their move to Atlanta in the 1970’s, they have never won more than one round of the playoffs. Needless to say, the Hawks’ time in Hotlanta has been tepid, at best.

The current core of Hawks have been together for over 5 seasons now, and have made the playoffs the past 4 years. Though there have been a lot of revolving pieces around them, guard Joe Johnson, forwards Marvin Williams, Josh Smith and center Al Horford have been at the middle of one of the most successful eras in Hawks basketball. Having missed the playoffs for a franchise-worst 8 seasons in a

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GMs please confer with my sister before giving out $100 million dollar contracts

Allow me to lay out Joe Johnson’s salaries for the next 6 years:

2010-11: 16,324,500
2011-12: 18,038,573
2012-13: 19,752,645
2013-14: 21,466,718
2014-15: 23,180,790
2015-16: 24,894,863

That’s right. That’s $119,000,000 dollars. For Joe Johnson. This guy, whose nickname is “Silent” Joe Johnson, got one of the top 15 richest contracts in NBA history.

I have a general rule in the NBA. You’re not allowed to give a guy over $100 million if my sister has never heard of him. Seriously. It is foolproof. Let’s put this to the litmus test. Here are the guys my sister has heard of:

Kobe Bryant: 7 years, $136 million (2004)
Kevin Garnett: 6 years, $126 million (1999)
Tim Duncan: 7 years, $126 million (2003)
Shaquille O’Neal: 7 years, $120 million (1996)
LeBron James: 6 Years, $114 million (2010)
Dwyane Wade: 6 years, $107 million (2010)
Jason Kidd: 5 Years, $100 million (2003)
Chris Webber: 7 years, $122 million (2001)

And here are the guys that she’d go “who?” to:
Rashard Lewis: 6 years, $126 million (2007)
Jermaine O’Neal: 7 years, $126 million (2003)
Joe Johnson: 6 years, $119 million (2010)
Chris Bosh: 6 years, $114 million (2010)
Gilbert Arenas: 6 years, $111 million (2008)
Juwan Howard: 7 years, $105 million (1996)
Amar’ Stoudemire: 5 years, $100 million (2010)

This isn’t disrespect towards Erin Kobashigawa; quite the contrary. It’s actually quite the test. My sister of course knows Kobe, KG, Timmy, Shaquille, Kidd and Webber. And you know why? These guys have 14 titles, 5 MVPs, and 7 Finals MVPs between them. They are household names. They are the silhouettes on sneakers, the faces on Wheaties boxes and the voices from some very bad rap albums. They are winners, in some facet or another. And with the exception of Webber, whose career was destroyed by a knee injury, those guys were worth their contracts in their entirety. Even if you make the argument that my sister wouldn’t have known all these guys when they signed the contracts, that’s not entirely true – with the exception of Kevin Garnett, every player listed was already a superstar, household name by the time they signed those deals.

These other guys? Rashard Lewis and Gilbert currently own 1A and 2A of the most untradeable contracts in the league. And if you’re saying “well, that’s not true, they both got traded this season”. Yes, truth…but they got traded for each other. If you get stabbed on the right side of your head and “traded it” for a stab wound to the left side of your head, that would still really suck. It would suck so much that you would probably die. That’s is the approximate equivalent value of this trade, in real world terms.

(That is obviously an exaggeration. In the real world, you’d be dead. In terms of the Gil for Rashard trade, you just have to watch them play awful basketball. I’m so sorry).

The other two guys, Jermaine and Juwan, were both hurt for the last years of their deals and were largely considered expiring contract trade bait for those years. Even looking at Bosh and Joe Johnson, in the first years of their new deals, they already look like they are not going to be worth the money that they’re going to be paid. Amar’e is the only one on that list that could be worth that money, but as a guy who’s had reconstructive knee surgery and a detached cornea (that could have blinded him for life, seriously), I am more than skeptical. A max contract is supposed to be for a fran… Read more...