Joe Johnson to Rejoin Hawks With Maximum Contract, Spurning Knicks

Joe Johnson agreed to sign a new six-year contract with the Atlanta Hawks, turning down a chance to join the New York Knicks and former coach Mike D’Antoni.

Johnson’s deal is worth about $119 million, the maximum salary permitted under the National Basketball Association’s labor accord and almost $27 million more than any other team could offer the free agent, ESPN said on its website.

Johnson’s agent, Arn Tellem, said the four-time All-Star considered offers from the Knicks and Chicago Bulls before deciding to re-sign with the Hawks.

“Joe loved playing for D’Antoni and was excited by the possibility of joining him in New York. It seemed like a perfect match,” Tellem wrote in his weekly column for the Huffington Post yesterday. But “when the Hawks offered the maximum -- six years -- he happily reciprocated.”

Johnson, who has averaged more than 20 points a game in each of his five seasons in Atlanta, can’t officially sign the contract until July 8 under NBA free agency rules.

Johnson arrived in Atlanta from the Phoenix Suns in August 2005. The Hawks won 13 games the season before he arrived to finish with the worst record in the league. The next year they won 26 games and have improved every year since, qualifying for the playoffs the past three years.

“When the free-agency period kicked in, Joe made a point of talking to the Hawks first,” Tellem said. “Their owners and new coach, Larry Drew, impressed Joe with their commitment to making the team championship-caliber. In turn, Joe felt equally committed to the Hawks, his teammates and the city of Atlanta.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Dex McLuskey in Dallas at dmcluskey@bloomberg.net

Bloomberg reserves the right to edit or remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.