Joe Johnson is officially back in the NBA.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the former NBA All-Star has agreed to a partially guaranteed contract with the Detroit Pistons. Johnson has worked out for a number of teams over the past couple of weeks, one of which was the Pistons.
Although Johnson was an established star in the NBA for a number of years, he washed out of the league following the 2017-18 season. This led to his signing with the BIG3 League. After winning MVP honors and leading his team, the Triplets, to the BIG3 Title, he becomes the first player in the league’s history to sign an NBA deal after playing in the league.
Joe Johnson Likely Chose Pistons Due to Playing Time
Johnson had workouts with the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets. The Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans had also expressed interest in the veteran shooting guard.
His decision to sign with the Pistons is unclear at this time — with the exception of the Pelicans, they’re the worst team of the ones that were interested in him — but it’s probably safe to assume that playing time was a determining factor.
During his final season in the NBA in 2017-18, Johnson wasn’t even a rotation player for a Houston Rockets squad that was one game within the NBA Finals. He played for both Houston and the Utah Jazz during that season and averaged just 6.8 minutes per game while making just eight appearances in the Rockets’ postseason run.
In other words, Johnson didn’t want to see a repeat of that in his return to the NBA.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the Pistons will waive another fellow veteran, Michael Beasley, in order to clear up roster space for Johnson.
In Detroit, Johnson figures to be the immediate backup to Tony Snell, somebody who started just 12 games while averaging 17.6 minutes per game for the Bucks last season. In other words, Johnson could very well become the starter at small forward if he proves he can handle the full-court, 82-game grind of the NBA season.
Johnson played for a number of NBA teams in his 17-year career, most notably with the Atlanta Hawks. The 38-year-old was a seven-time All-Star and was named to the All-NBA Third Team back in 2010. He holds career averages of 16.0 points per game on 44.1 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Why Joe Johnson Played in the BIG3 League
Johnson drew rave reviews during his debut season in the BIG3 League, as he proved in the 3-on-3 league that he had plenty left in the tank. The man known as “Iso Joe” hit a number of clutch shots, including the game winner in the BIG3 Championship Game.
He explained in an interview with Marc J. Spears’ The Undefeated that it was the unfortunate passing of his mother that led him to play in the BIG3 League.
“I use it as therapy,” Johnson told The Undefeated. “My mom passed away in February, and being an only child, it was tough on me, so I just needed something to do to keep me busy. And the BIG3 was it.”
Now, that decision to play in the 3-on-3 league has unexpectedly led him back to where it all started — in the NBA.