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NBA Free Agency 2016: Utah Jazz sign veteran Joe Johnson to two year, $22 million deal


Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Utah Jazz, having swung and struck out early and often in this 2016 NBA Free Agency period, on such household names as Solomon Hill and Jared Dudley, have finally connected -- this time with former All-Star guard/forward/potential small-ball power forward Joe Johnson!

I'm surprised and happy about this because I made a joke about it earlier tonight.

Anyway, Joe Johnson is a 35 year old player who was a seven time NBA All-Star, made the All-NBA 3rd team back in 2010, was on the All-Rookie 2nd team, and has a bronze medal from the FIBA World Championships from 2006. He has previously played for the Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, and Miami Heat. Late in life we got to see him dismantle the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Playoffs a few times and is capable at 240 pounds to work in the paint.

The former 2001 lotto pick just celebrated his birthday on June 29th, and has been playing in the NBA for 15 seasons. He brings with him the veteran leadership that over 41k total regular season minutes and nearly 4k more playoff minutes can afford. Johnson has been the primary scorer of playoff teams before and has transitioned into a complimentary player of late .. dropping down to 10.5 FGA a game with the Heat last season. He still have AVERAGED at least double figures in scoring every year in the league since 2003-2004. That's a while. He has seen better days on defense, on the glass, and with his former athletic abilities. But he's still a scorer, he can get to the line when put in the right direction, and over his last few seasons he has been terrific from downtown:

  • 2011-12: 5.4 3PTA/Game, .388 3PT%
  • 2012-13: 5.5 3PTA/Game, .375 3PT%
  • 2013-14: 5.1 3PTA/Game, .401 3PT%
  • 2014-15: 4.2 3PTA/Game, .359 3PT%
  • 2015-16: 3.9 3PTA/Game, .383 3PT%

He's still good enough to start (started 81 of 81 last season), but at 35 may be looking at coming off the bench a little more seriously. Johnson can be a 2/3/4 in the West depending on who the Utah Jazz are playing. I don't know who he defends, but at the very least the Jazz should go through fewer periods where the offense just stalls and no one scores. Trey Burke used to take it upon himself to try to go one on one. Alec Burks, often injured, could at least make his own shot near the rim or get fouled. But Joe Johnson has made a living in isolation, spotting up, or on the move -- and made teams pay for it for over a decade.

On the wing depth chart, Johnson is only below Hayward. He may still come off the bench allowing for Rodney Hood to start. He's clearly better than Joe Ingles and the non-guaranteed contract place holder that Chris Johnson appears to be. Joe Johnson today is better than anyone the team could have had in the lottery or back in the late 1st rounder of the NBA Draft, for what it is worth.

If he's able to impart some of his wisdom to Burks, Hayward, Hood, and hopefully Trey Lyles, we're all the better for it.

This is a real statement by Dennis Lindsey. Paired up with George Hill it seems like this team is aiming for the NBA Playoffs, and wants to show Gordon Hayward that they are not just happy with another 1st round sweep.

It's a solid move, and cheap. And the Jazz still have about $15 million dollars in cap space if they wish to use all of it.

I give this a 8/10 grade. Only because he's not any younger and not going to get any better. It's a win now move for a team in win now mode.