The reporting has been a little slow lately. Maybe it’s the Independence Day holiday – maybe just the nature of the beast and everyone waiting for LeBron. But a couple more moves:
Atlanta Hawks sign Joe Johnson for 6 years $120 million: I wrote about this already. This is a mind bendingly stupid deal by the Hawks. It’s not like they sell out the building – the Hawks have always been a tough draw, and Atlanta is probably the worst pro sports market in the United States anyway. The Hawks are a good team – good enough to make the 2nd round in each of the last two playoffs. However, they lost 8 straight in that round by double figures. As constituted, this team cannot make the leap. But what have they done? Replaced Mike Woodson with his assistant who might keep their system – which is good but also has bogged down in the playoffs. Then they re-sign their money man without any sort of hometown discount. Basically Johnson is back solely for the coin. And one can easily argue Josh Smith is their best player – and will be in the future. The Hawks have doomed themselves to a very limited ceiling for the foreseeable future.
New York Knicks sign Amare Stoudemire for 5 years, $100 million: On some basic level the Knicks overpaid for Amare here. Amare is a poor defender, and showed some low effort in the Lakers series. He could be taken out of games at times. But he is a prodigious inside scorer, and is returning to the system where he became a household name. In addition, the Knicks HAD to land a big fish. Given how they have sold this strategy to their fans, and given how little hope Knicks fans have felt for years – they NEEDED to get a big catch this offseason. Stoudemire certainly qualifies, and will probably justify his deal. There is also some room for the Knicks to go get someone else. This move does not make the Knicks a title contender – but now they have a chance to put that sort of team out there – whether it be with the rest of this offseason or next year.
Boston Celtics re-sign Paul Pierce for 4 years $60 million: The haggling on the fourth year was about how guaranteed it would be. The details when they come out will be interesting. That said, Pierce has gone through a lot. He survived a stabbing, and never asked to leave Boston. And while he is not the player he was, his virtues (size and shooting ability) are durable and his secondary skills offer value. This is an old team – but torching it was not a viable cap option – not with Garnett being unmovable through 2012. So the Celtics and Pierce got a mutually beneficial agreement, and the Celtics have a chance to do some rebuilding on the fly with Rasheed’s contract hopefully.
Dallas Mavericks re-sign Dirk Nowitzki for 4 years $80 million: Dirk is one of the ten best players in the league, and his biggest skills (shooting, rebounding, being tall) assure he will be a viable player for far beyond this deal. Mavericks and he also good mutual agreement. In addition, if Dallas wanted to take a long odds stab at LeBron – they have a lot of enticing pieces to offer.