Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson, Langston Galloway Among Team USA Players For World Cup Qualifiers

USA Basketball has announced its 12-man roster for the next two qualifying games for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. The team, coached by Jim Boylen, will be made up of G League players and current free agents. Here’s the roster:

With the exception of Ryan, all of the players on Team USA have some NBA experience, though some are certainly more accomplished than others. Johnson has earned seven All-Star berths and has appeared in 1,277 career regular season games. Bell, Black, and Galloway have also each played in more than 160 career regular season contests.

The 2023 World Cup will take place in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia next August and September. Teams play 12 qualifying games before then — those contests take place across six windows, with World Cup hopefuls playing twice during each window.

Team USA went 1-1 in its first two qualifying games in November, defeating Cuba but losing to Mexico. Boylen coached that team and Bowen played for it, but the other 11 roster spots have since been turned over, with Isaiah Thomas among the players who aren’t back this time around. The new-look squad will face Puerto Rico on February 24 and Mexico again on February 27.

After this month’s games, the remaining four qualifying windows are scheduled for June, August, November, and next February. While the next two windows fall outside of the NBA season, the expectation is that USA Basketball will continue using G-Leaguers for the qualifiers before recruiting NBA stars for the event itself next summer.

As our JD Shaw reports (via Twitter), forward DaQuan Jeffries had been expected to be part of Team USA’s roster for this month’s qualifiers, but had to de-commit due to an injury.

Atlantic Notes: Walker, Johnson, Tatum, VanVleet

Though Knicks point guard Kemba Walker just missed his third consecutive game (a 104-94 win over the Pacers) due to left knee soreness, team doctors have determined that there is no structural damage to the ligament that would require surgery, per Steve Popper of Newsday.

“He warmed up in OKC, tweaked something,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s got some soreness so we’ll let it clear up and then we’ll go from there.”

Thibodeau removed Walker, who had begun the 2021/22 season as a starter, from New York’s lineup entirely in late November. COVID-19 and injury absences necessitated a pivot, and Walker played well in his return. During his six games back, Walker averaged 19.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG and 6.0 APG for the Knicks.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics All-Star wing Jayson Tatum discussed his experience with 40-year-old veteran swingman Joe Johnson, a former seven-time All-Star signed by Boston to a 10-day hardship exception. The team opted to not sign Johnson to a second 10-day deal after his first expired. “We all enjoyed the time that he was here,” Tatum said, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). “The ultimate professional and somebody a lot of us look up to and obviously, we would have loved to [have] kept him around.” Johnson played in just one game during his 10 days with the team, scoring on his only field goal attempt. Tatum said that Johnson continues to watch Celtics games and that he and Johnson still text each other.
  • Tatum also noted that his body is in better shape returning from COVID-19 protocols this season, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald tweets. The Celtics forward was hit hard by the novel coronavirus during the 2020/21 NBA season. “I feel a lot better with everything,” Tatum said, per Murphy. “My quarantine was shorter, my body feels a lot better, comparing my first couple of days back practicing than last year when I first came back.”
  • Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet is letting his play do the talking, emerging as a legitimate candidate to be named to his first All-Star team this season, writes Nekias Duncan of Basketball News. Duncan observes that VanVleet is one of just three Eastern Conference guards, along with James Harden and Trae Young, averaging at least 20 PPG and 6 APG, while boasting a True Shooting percentage of 58% or higher. VanVleet is averaging 21.3 PPG, 6.7 APG, and 4.9 RPG, with a 58.5% true shooting percentage, across 31 games. The 27-year-old, who won a title with Toronto in 2019, boasts an overall shooting line of .441/.405/.880.

Eastern Notes: Johnson, Celtics, Wizards, Sabonis, Walton, Sixers

The Celtics won’t retain veteran guard Joe Johnson past his first 10-day hardship contract, head coach Ime Udoka said, as relayed by Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe (Twitter link).

Udoka believes Johnson could still sign another deal in the NBA, but Boston has had players clear the health and safety protocols since signing him. Johnson only appeared in one game, logging just under two minutes and making his only shot attempt.

As Washburn notes (via Twitter), Boston would have to make another roster move or lose additional players to protocols in order to retain Johnson. The 40-year-old now enters free agency as an 18-year NBA veteran, owning 1,397 games of experience between the regular season and playoffs.

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe says not to be surprised if the Wizards kick the tires on Pacers center Domantas Sabonis prior to this season’s trade deadline. Lowe views Washington as a good candidate to make a consolidation trade, since the team has plenty of depth and could use a running mate for Bradley Beal.
  • Pistons guard Derrick Walton is living his hometown dream by playing with the franchise, James Edwards III of The Athletic writes. Walton, 26, is currently on a 10-day hardship deal with the organization.
  • The Sixers appear to be ready to overcome adversity and compete for a championship, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer opines. Philadelphia remains firmly in the Eastern Conference playoff picture despite dealing with a series of injuries, COVID-19 cases, and Ben Simmons‘ absence. The team’s ceiling could increase significantly if Simmons returns or is traded for quality pieces.

And-Ones: P. Jones, Mac, Clark, Opportunities, Hardship Deals

Perry Jones and Sheldon Mac are the latest players attempting NBA comebacks, agent Harrison Gaines tells Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (via Twitter). The two players will be entering the G League player pool.

Jones was the 28th overall pick of the 2012 draft for the Thunder and played three seasons with the team, last appearing in 2014/15. In 143 career games, Jones holds averages of 3.4 points and 1.8 rebounds in 11.7 minutes.

The 29-year-old Mac appeared in 30 games for the Wizards in 2016/17, holding modest averages of 3.0 points and 1.1 rebounds in 9.6 minutes per contest.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran forward Earl Clark has joined Miami’s G League squad, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. It was reported last week that Clark had signed a G League deal.
  • The opportunities for players caused by COVID-19 absences are no laughing matter, write Jon Krawczynski and Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Krawczynski and Weiss note that Timberwolves players who’d been out of the team’s rotation (Jake Layman, Nathan Knight, Jaylen Nowell) or out of the NBA (Greg Monroe) are trying to make the most of their newfound minutes. “I’m not quitting,” Monroe said. “I believe I belong in the NBA. So I’ll just come out and play wherever it is, as hard as I can.”
  • Michael Scotto of HoopsHype takes a behind the scenes look at what it’s like for players on hardship deals. Scotto spoke to Brandon Knight, Lance Stephenson and Joe Johnson about their new NBA opportunities.
  • There was a slight change to the NBA’s COVID-19 isolation rules for players outside of a team environment, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The change has no bearing on a return to team activities, so players who enter the health and safety protocols will still be required to remain away from the team for six days, unless they return two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

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).

Joe Johnson Signs 10-Day Contract With Celtics

4:11pm: The signing is official, the Celtics announced (via Twitter).

10:06am: Veteran NBA swingman Joe Johnson is returning to the NBA, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that the seven-time All-Star is signing a 10-day contract with the Celtics via a hardship exception.

It’s an unexpected comeback for Johnson, who turned 40 years old in June and hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2017/18 season, when he appeared in 55 games for Utah and Houston. His last NBA contract came in the fall of 2019 — he competed in training camp for the Pistons’ final roster spot, but lost out to Christian Wood.

Johnson, who has won two MVP awards in the BIG3 in recent years, has appeared in 1,276 total regular season NBA games and another 120 postseason contests. He has career averages of 16.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 3.9 APG on .441/.371/.802 shooting, though those numbers fell off significantly in his final season in ’17/18.

The odds are against Johnson turning a 10-day audition into a full-season opportunity on an NBA roster, but it will be good to see him back in the league. He’ll join a Celtics team that currently has seven players in the health and safety protocols. Boston has also signed Justin Jackson and C.J. Miles to 10-day deals within the last week.

Joe Johnson Keeping Door Open For NBA Return

Coming off a second straight MVP season in the BIG3, Joe Johnson hasn’t given up on the idea of returning to the NBA. Johnson, who turned 40 in June, tells TMZ he still believes he can play at the highest level.

“No, I’m not done,” he said. “We’ll see what happens here … We’ll see, man. We’ll see. I don’t have nothing definite to tell you, to be honest with you. But, I’mma be out here to try to get things done.”

Johnson hasn’t been in the NBA since the 2017/18 season when he played a combined 55 games for the Jazz and Rockets. He was in training camp with the Pistons in 2019, but lost a battle for the team’s final roster spot and was waived before the season began.

Johnson had a workout with the Bucks in April, but Milwaukee opted not to sign him. He played for Team USA in February at the AmeriCup qualifiers in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

A seven-time All-Star, Johnson played 17 NBA seasons, averaging 16.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 1,276 career games.

Although it may be difficult for Johnson to get a training camp invitation with so many teams having full rosters, he told TMZ he continues to be motivated by the thrill of playing basketball long after most of his contemporaries have retired.

“I just love hooping,” he said.

And-Ones: Big3, Giannis, Overtime Elite, GM Candidates

Jarrett Jack has joined the Suns’ coaching staff, but his playing career isn’t completely over. Jack hit the game-winning shot Saturday as the Trilogy defended its Big3 title, writes Jack Maloney of CBS Sports. Jack, who was named Co-Rookie of the Year in the summer three-on-three league, had 29 points in the championship game.

“Got a little emotional,” he said. “To be honest, man, this was crazy. This was my first time hitting a game-winner in front of my son. I’m happy for him to be a part of it. Our coach stuck with us through and through every week. We had a hell of a group man. I just want to shout out these guys, my teammates.”

Former NBA All-Star Joe Johnson was named league MVP for the second straight season (Twitter link). Other award winners were Kevin Murphy joining Jack as Co-Rookie of the Year, Isaiah Briscoe as Fourth Man of the Year and Larry Sanders as Defensive Player of the Year.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is considering a return to international basketball in the 2022 EuroBasket tournament, according to EuroHoops. He had to miss this year’s Olympic qualifying tournament because of the playoffs, and Greece failed to earn a spot in Tokyo. “Taking it day by day. But I can’t wait,” Antetokounmpo wrote in response to a tweet by FIBA previewing EuroBasket.
  • In a press release, Overtime Elite announced the signing of three more players — Jahzare Jackson, Jaylen Martin and TJ Clark. The league, made up of top high school prospects, now has 24 players for its inaugural season. OTE is also hoping to sign Kamari Lands, who recently decommitted from Syracuse, tweets Adam Zagoria.
  • The Bucks’ championship makes assistant general manager Milt Newton one of the top GM candidates in the league, per Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Newton has experience running a team in Minnesota and he helped build a title-winning roster in Milwaukee. Fischer also examines several other candidates who may be considered for the next GM openings.

Joe Johnson Will Work Out For Bucks

Joe Johnson will make another attempt at an NBA comeback, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The 39-year-old swingman has a workout scheduled with the Bucks this week, sources tell Scotto.

Johnson has been out of the league since the 2017/18 season, when he played a combined 55 games for the Jazz and Rockets. He was part of the Team USA squad at the AmericaCup qualifying event in February, averaging 11 points, nine rebounds and 6.5 assists in two games.

He’s also known for his time in the BIG3 League, where he captured MVP honors in 2019 and earned a training camp invitation from the Pistons. He survived until the end of camp, but lost a battle for the final roster spot to Christian Wood.

Johnson played 17 NBA seasons and appeared in seven All-Star Games. Scotto suggests the Bucks are intrigued by his extensive playoff experience, as well as his ability to stretch the floor and score in isolation.

Milwaukee has an open roster spot, so Johnson could be added without making another move.

And-Ones: J. Johnson, Ignite, Clippers’ Arena, S. Smith

Isaiah Thomas won’t be the only NBA veteran suiting up for Team USA at the AmeriCup qualifiers in San Juan, Puerto Rico next month. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson, who has been out of the league since 2018, will also represent the U.S. in games against The Bahamas and Mexico.

As G League expert Adam Johnson points out (via Twitter), with the NBAGL bubble taking place next month, there will be fewer G League veterans available to represent Team USA than there were at the earlier qualifiers. However, there are a number of former NBA players who weren’t selected in this month’s NBAGL draft who could look to join Thomas and Johnson on the U.S. roster to showcase themselves to NBA teams.

USA Basketball has already qualified for the 2022 AmeriCup tournament by going 4-0 in previous qualifying games, so the team won’t face any pressure in San Juan to win both its games.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Brian Shaw, the head coach of the G League Ignite, spoke to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype about the outlook for prospects like Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, why other youngsters should consider the G League out of high school, and whether he has any desire to return to coaching in the NBA.
  • Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated also checks in on the Ignite, passing along first impressions of Jalen Green and exploring the roles that the G League veterans on the Ignite’s roster are playing.
  • The City of Inglewood intends to use eminent domain to acquire the land necessary for the Clippers‘ new arena, according to Jason Henry of The Pasadena Star-News, who provides an update on the plans and the timetable for the construction of that building.
  • Veteran basketball analyst Sekou Smith (of NBA TV and passed away on Tuesday due to COVID-19, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes. The league and the players’ union both released statements mourning Smith. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.