Could Joe Johnson be on the verge of making his NBA return?
It’s no secret that the seven-time NBA All-Star has lit it up in the BIG3 League. He was recently named the MVP of the 2019 season — his first in the league — and he’s managed to lead the expansion Triplets to the championship game.
However, he has his sights on a bigger mission — a return to the NBA. According to Marc J. Spears of ESPN, the 38-year-old will out for the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday. He will also work out for the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks in the near future.
Five Total NBA Teams Interested in Joe Johnson
The interest among NBA circles in the former star isn’t just limited to the Clippers, Bucks and Nuggets. In a later tweet, Spears also stated that the New Orleans Pelicans are being linked to Johnson. Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry and vice president David Griffin watched Johnson play in the BIG3 playoffs over the weekend in New Orleans.
Johnson was a star in the NBA who last played during the 2017-18 season. During his playing career, the 6-foot-7 swingman was an All-NBA selection who was the Atlanta Hawks‘ leading scorer during all seven of his seasons with the franchise. He also played for the Boston Celtics, the Steve Nash-led Phoenix Suns, the Brooklyn Nets, the Miami Heat and the Utah Jazz.
The 17-year NBA veteran may have not received any interest from clubs during the 2018 offseason. However, he has more than proven that he has a lot left in the tank as the best player in the BIG3 League.
Johnson has averaged 21.9 points per game and has shot 48.5 percent from the field in eight games with the Triplets.
Former NBA forward Brian Scalabrine, who plays in the BIG3 for the Ball Hogs, told The Athletic’s Frank Isola that Johnson deserved another shot in the NBA — and will give the BIG3 League even more credibility moving forward.
“Joe Johnson is good offensively and defensively, Scalabrine said. “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.”
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The Former NBA All-Star Has Proven He Can Be Role Player
Most importantly, he has proven he can accept a role player role in the advanced stages of his career. Despite being the lead man on the Hawks for a number of years, he accepted clear-cut secondary roles on the Heat and Jazz during the latter stages of his career.
It’ll be interesting to see what type of team Johnson prioritizes as a free agent. The Bucks, Nuggets, Sixers and Clippers are all contenders, with Los Angeles being the clear-cut title favorite among all NBA teams. On the other hand, the Pelicans are short on veterans and guards and a player like Johnson could play a big role on the rebuilding franchise.
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