Joe Johnson has interest in joining the Hawks if he shakes free from the Nets, several sources tell Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That adds some doubt to the notion that Johnson would sign with the Cavaliers if he becomes a free agent this season, as Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer had heard. The Nets and Johnson have reportedly begun buyout talks, with the Hawks among a handful of teams interested in signing him.
Only three Hawks, Jeff Teague, Al Horford and Kirk Hinrich, remain from the seven seasons Johnson spent with Atlanta between 2005 and 2012, Vivlamore notes. The Hawks originally signed Johnson to the contract that pays him nearly $24.895MM this season before trading him to the Nets in the 2012 offseason. The 34-year-old would be giving up a portion of that salary in exchange for his way off the 15-42 Nets if the sides work a buyout deal, and he’d be available much more cheaply should he clear waivers, as would be expected.
Atlanta has an open roster spot and can offer Johnson a prorated portion of the room exception, which would work out to about $2MM. That’s not as much as he could get from the Thunder, who can offer about $2.4MM, but it’s more than the Cavaliers and several others can offer. The Celtics, Rockets, Heat and Raptors are also in pursuit, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, who broke the story of the buyout talks between Johnson and the Nets. Johnson would have to hit waivers no later than March 1st to be eligible to play for the Hawks or any team other than Brooklyn in the postseason, and that would largely represent Johnson’s motivation to do the buyout, since the Nets have virtually no shot of making the playoffs.