NBA veterans who are bought out of their contracts after the All Star break are given a second chance during the season. Aside from being paid a lump sum to leave what is usually a non-contending team, the player then gets to choose where he chases an NBA Championship. According to ESPN, after being waived by the New Jersey Nets, Joe Johnson decided to choose Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
While the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs battle it out to see who the best team in the Western Conference is, the widespread belief is that the Cleveland Cavaliers should be able to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals again this year. Though not talked about as much as Stephen Curry nowadays, LeBron James is still one of the best basketball players in the world, and he has some talented sidekicks in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
It was not a well kept secret that LeBron James really wanted Joe Johnson to join him, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love in their quest to return to the NBA Finals so that they can finally bring a championship to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Right before the trading deadline, Cavaliers general manager David Griffin made several calls to see if he could acquire another quality wing player, but he simply was not able to find the right deal without putting the future of the team in jeopardy.
As a sign of how well respected his skills still are, Joe Johnson was recruited by several NBA teams. Aside from the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Atlanta Hawks were said to be quite interested in bringing Johnson, their former franchise player before he joined the Brooklyn Nets, back to a roster that is equipped to contend for an NBA title. Johnson would have been a great complement to Jeff Teague, Dennis Schroeder, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Al Horford.
At the end of the day, Joe Johnson decided to sign with the Miami Heat. He cites personal relationships with the current players as a big reason why he chose to take his talents to South Beach. Johnson and Dwyane Wade formed a very close friendship when they played internationally together. Joe also specifically mentioned his friendship with Udonis Haslem and Amare Stoudemire, who is the new starting center for the Miami Heat.
The Miami Heat were considered an NBA Championship contender when the regular season started. Unfortunately for the team, this is now the second year in a row where Chris Bosh has been sidelined by health issues. Heat team president Pat Riley has been purposely silent about what actually ails Bosh. Last season, the All Star forward was forced to leave the team because he was having issues with blood clots.
If LeBron James can win an NBA Championship for the Cleveland Cavaliers, then there are obviously going to be plenty of people who will second guess the decision made by Joe Johnson. The 6’8″, 230 pound forward himself might question the move. However, when pressed by the media if he’s in that situation, then Johnson, a 15-year veteran, will know the right things to say to reporters who are looking for a little nugget to feed on.
For now, the Cleveland Cavaliers can only wonder what it would have been like to have someone as talented as Joe Johnson being their fourth best player in the rotation. It’s rare to have that type of depth in the NBA.
[Featured Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images]