Although he’s no longer an All-Star-caliber scorer like he was in the prime of his career, Joe Johnson might soon be back in an NBA uniform, as he is reportedly scheduled to work out with a number of teams in the coming days.
According to a report from ESPN, the 38-year-old Johnson is scheduled to work out for the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday and is expected to show up for workouts for the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, and Milwaukee Bucks in the days to follow. Spears also mentioned the possibility that Johnson might try out for the New Orleans Pelicans – head coach Alvin Gentry and executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin were present during the recent BIG3 playoffs as the 17-year NBA veteran starred for the three-on-three league’s Triplets team.
Johnson won’t be the only player hoping to return to the NBA during Thursday’s workout with the Sixers. Per ESPN, center Spencer Hawes – a 10-year veteran who spent all of the 2018-19 season on the Los Angeles Lakers’ G-League team – is also scheduled to try out for Philadelphia’s 15th and final roster spot.
According to Bleacher Report, Johnson signed with BIG3 in March of this year after months as an unsigned NBA free agent. Playing for a Triplets team that also featured former NBA big man Al Jefferson, the veteran wingman won the league’s MVP award after averaging 21.9 points per game and shooting 48.5 percent from the field in eight games.
As shown on his Basketball-Reference player page, Johnson has averaged 16 points, four rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game over his NBA career, which saw him earn All-NBA honors for the Atlanta Hawks in the 2009-10 season and appear in seven All-Star Games. He last suited up for the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets in the 2017-18 season, where he averaged a combined 6.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 55 games. While he played decently as a reserve for these two perennial Western Conference playoff contenders, Johnson made only 27.6 percent of this three-point attempts and had a combined minus-3.6 net rating for both teams.
With Johnson hoping to add an 18th NBA season to his resume, former Boston Celtics backup forward Brian Scalabrine, who also plays in the BIG3, recently opined that the former first-round draft pick out of Arkansas deserves another chance to play in the NBA.
“Joe Johnson is good offensively and defensively,” Scalabrine told The Athletic‘s Frank Isola, as quoted by Bleacher Report. “He can play pick-and-roll. He passes. He is an NBA player. He’s going to get a shot, and players are going to start using the BIG3 to get back into the league.”
Despite Scalabrine’s optimism regarding the chances of Johnson making an NBA comeback in his late 30s, Bleacher Report cautioned that there are some “obvious caveats,” including the lower level of competition in the BIG3 that could make it hard for him to transition back to the NBA.