All along, we've figured that Joe Johnson was primed to be the guy who would join forces with LeBron James or another big free agent and become their sidekick. The Atlanta Hawks, however, have other ideas. They'd like to keep Johnson, their best player in many, many years.
And apparently, they're willing to pay what's necessary to do so. According to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Hawks are ready to give Johnson a max contract.
Source says Hawks to offer Joe Johnson max 6 yr Bird rights deal at start of free agency
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski says this is bad news for other teams.
AJC report that Hawks preparing 6-year Bird Rights deal is devastating news to potential Joe Johnson suitors. He wants to stay in Atlanta.
I'm guessing SB Nation's Hawks blog Peachtree Hoops won't be too thrilled with this news, considering they wrote this at the beginning of the day:
Joe is/has been a great player, but has always been miscast as some sort of superstar, even in star-starved Atlanta. His numbers, beyond All-Star game count, has never proven that reputation out. He's a great shot maker, plays a very physical brand of basketball, but it seems the rest of the league and those who watch the NBA is getting around to the same conclusions as Bird Watchers have....Joe is not a max player, doesn't quite rise to the level of a top-shelf free agent, candidate, and is, at best a fallback plan for a team that has the financial resources to swallow an above market contact well beyond the years of peak performance.