Atlantic Notes: J. Johnson, Schröder, Griffin, Toppin

Joe Johnson is excited to resume his NBA career in the same place it started 20 years ago, writes Patrick McAvoy of NESN. After three years out of the league, Johnson signed a 10-day contract with the Celtics, who selected him with the 10th pick in the 2001 draft. Johnson only played 48 games in Boston before being traded to the Suns, but he says it has a feeling of home.

“Man, I’m just going to enjoy the moment. It’s almost like a familiar place but I was only here for about six months my rookie year and I got traded,” Johnson said. “But you know it’s fun, there’s still a lot of familiar faces out there for the organization and I was surprised to see. It’s good to see some familiar faces and good to be in a familiar place.”

Johnson told reporters he wasn’t ready to play 5-on-5 basketball last year, but he spent the past 12 months working on conditioning, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Johnson was spending time with his daughter on Tuesday when his agent called and said the Celtics might be interested, adds Jay King of The Athletic (Twitter link). The agent called back 30 or 40 minutes later and told him to get on a plane.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Dennis Schröder will represent the first major trade deadline decision for new Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, King states in a full story. Schröder has been productive in his first season with the team, averaging 16.8 points and 4.7 assists per game, but he’s on a one-year bargain contract and Boston will be limited to an offer beginning at about $7MM this summer. King notes that Schröder also takes playing time away from Payton Pritchard, who is among the team’s best shooters.
  • The COVID-19 outbreak that has strained the Nets‘ roster gave Blake Griffin a chance to revive his season, per Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. Griffin was out of the rotation when the virus hit, but with only eight active players he logged a season-high 32 minutes Saturday night. He has played better since returning to the lineup five games ago and could see regular minutes once the roster is back to normal. “Blake’s played great,” coach Steve Nash said. “Like I’ve said to him, we know there’s always something around the corner, so although he was out of the rotation for a little while, we knew something would happen and he’d get his opportunity again, and he’s a pro. Worked his butt off, stayed in shape, found a rhythm. He’s playing good basketball.”
  • The Knicks, who have also been decimated by the virus, got good news today with Obi Toppin clearing health and safety protocols, the team announced (Twitter link).
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