x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

A decision, but by Johnson not James

The Hawks' All-Star guard stays in Atlanta for US$120m as elite free agents spend the long weekend trying to decide on their professional futures.

Joe Johnson, left, chose to remain in Atlanta over moving to New York, where he would have been reunited with Mike D'Antoni, his former coach in Phoenix.
Joe Johnson, left, chose to remain in Atlanta over moving to New York, where he would have been reunited with Mike D'Antoni, his former coach in Phoenix.

While LeBron James and the elite of the NBA's 2010 free-agent class struggled through a long weekend of indecision, Joe Johnson made up his mind to remain with the Atlanta Hawks. Arn Tellum, the representative for Johnson, said the Hawks' All-Star guard committed to Atlanta for the maximum contract duration and dollar amount - six seasons and nearly US$120 million (Dh440m). Johnson chose to remain in Atlanta over moving to Chicago or New York, where he would have been reunited with Mike D'Antoni, his former coach in Phoenix. The Hawks have shown signs of rising from decades of mediocrity; they have reached the second round of the play-offs in the past two years with Johnson as their top player. He is a four-time All-Star and has averaged more than 20 points in each of his five seasons with the Hawks. "His priorities are his family, his friends and his game," Tellem said. "Joe could have forced a sign-and-trade deal for five years with another team, but he decided that winning in Atlanta would be more meaningful." Meanwhile, James, the two-time Most Valuable Player, kept a low profile at his Ohio mansion over the Fourth of July holiday weekend to weigh formal offers from six NBA teams. The messages on www.lebronjames.com were simple but offered no clues about his future: "Getting closer" and "You'll be the first to know". The two other players in greatest demand during a talent chase that could alter the NBA landscape - Dwyane Wade, the Miami Heat guard, and Chris Bosh, the Toronto Raptors forward - were both similarly conflicted. "I'm sure everyone is ready to get a decision going," Dwyane Wade told a TV station in Chicago. Wade said he planned to use the weekend to think after meeting twice with the Chicago Bulls, plus getting visits from the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets. Some reports had Amare Stoudemire, a high-scoring forward, committing to the Knicks, but the club denied the stories. Players such as Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer, who in some years might be the best free agents available, are in a holding pattern while James, Wade and Bosh, considered the head of the class, come to their decisions. * Agencies