Johnson signs six-year, $124M deal
ATLANTA -- Joe Johnson said Thursday after re-signing with Atlanta that playing with the Hawks gives him the best chance to win today and in the future.
Johnson officially signed a six-year deal with Atlanta that will pay the four-time All-Star an average of more than $20 million a year.
The deal is for $123.7 million, according to Johnson's agent, Arn Tellem. Other teams could only offer Johnson five years and about $25 million less than the Hawks.
Johnson and the Hawks agreed to the maximum contract on Monday. Thursday was the first day free agents can sign contracts.
"Although I explored several different opportunities this offseason, Atlanta was the place I wanted to be," Johnson said in a statement released by the team.
Johnson applauded the Hawks "continued efforts to improve the team."
"Staying in Atlanta provides the best opportunity to win today and in the future," he said. "My five years with the Hawks have been the best of my career, and I look forward to my teammates and I trying to reach our ultimate goal together, competing for a championship for the city of Atlanta."
Hawks general manager Rick Sund has consistently said that re-signing Johnson was his top priority. Sund said that by re-signing Johnson the Hawks will be in position to go deeper into the playoffs after falling in the second round the last two seasons.
"He made it very clear that he shares our excitement about the future of our club," Sund said. "We were among the final four teams in the conference each of the last two years, and we think we're on the verge of making that next step.
"Joe's signing illustrates our philosophy of making the commitment to keeping our core together."
Johnson, who has played five years in Atlanta, was considered one of the top free agents in a field of All-Stars. The Hawks won 53 games last season and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
He has been the team's leading scorer each of his five years in Atlanta.
Johnson averaged 21.3 points this season to rank 11th in the league as he earned his fourth straight All-Star berth. His production fell off in the second-round loss to Orlando.
Coach Mike Woodson was fired after the Hawks were swept by Orlando.
New coach Larry Drew, who was one of Woodson's assistants, may have the option of having the same starting five back, now that Johnson has re-signed.
"There were a number of teams interested in signing Joe, and we put our best foot forward to bring him back and continue what we've started," Drew said.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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