Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson will undergo arthoscopic surgery on his right elbow, the team announced Wednesday. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.
Johnson, who signed a six-year contract extension worth $124 million last summer, was replaced by Maurice Evans in Atlanta's line-up Wednesday against the Grizzlies. It's expected Evans or reigning Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford will replace J.J. over the next few weeks.
The key for the Hawks will be to find some scoring punch with Johnson; he has been the team's leading scorer since arriving in 2005-06. Al Horford and Josh Smith are capable but unexplosive scorers, and small forward Marvin Williams has a nice offensive game. But so much of Atlanta's offense relies on the creation and shooting skills of Johnson that Crawford, Evans or bench guards Jeff Teague and Jordan Crawford really need to step it up.
That is assuming the Hawks can hang tough in a surprisingly even Eastern Conference, where only four games separate the top seven teams. Atlanta's right in the middle of it at 11-7, with tough tests at rivals Miami, Orlando and Boston coming up quickly on the schedule.
If Johnson returns in four weeks, he will have missed 17 games. If it's six weeks until he comes back, it will have been 24 games. Before this injury, he had played in 394 of a possible 428 games with the Hawks, or a very dependable 92 percent.