No decisions from biggest names, but Johnson will stick to Hawks
Stoudemire’s decision may come soon, affect others
While LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are not expected to make any career decisions over the long Fourth of July weekend, Joe Johnson made his: He’s staying in Atlanta.
Johnson, a four-time AllStar guard, has agreed to a maximum contract — $119 million over six years — to remain with the Hawks, agent Arn Tellem confirmed.
Johnson, who averaged 21.3 points last season, has been at the center of the Hawks’ resur- gence since arriving in Atlanta from Phoenix in a sign-andtrade deal on Aug. 19, 2005. A 13-win team the season before he arrived, the Hawks doubled that the next season and went 53-29 in 2009-10 before getting swept by Orlando in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“His priorities are his family, his friends and his game,’’ Tellem said.
Johnson could have signed with nearly any of the six teams who have salary-cap space for a max free agent.
Power forward Amare Stoudemire may be the next domino to fall. He spent the entire weekend being wined and dined in New York and will meet with Knicks officials today.
Stoudemire wants a $100 million, five-year max contract to be reunited with his former Phoenix coach, Mike D’Antoni, and there are indications the Knicks will give him that.
But what the Knicks really want to know is whether James is seriously interested in playing for them and, if he is, does he want Stoudemire as his big man?
New York held a secret second meeting with James’ representatives Saturday in Cleve- land to clarify exactly where they stood with Stoudemire.
According to ESPN.com, the Knicks told James in their initial meeting with him that if he signs with them, he can choose which free agent big man he would like to play alongside: Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer or David Lee.
Most insiders believe James is more likely to sign with Chicago or stay in Cleveland.
In any case, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that James will not announce his decision under after his basketball camp in Akron, Ohio, concludes Wednesday night.
Stoudemire has already been telling people that if he signs with the Knicks, and James doesn’t, he’ll be recruiting other players.
“I’ve talked to Carmelo Anthony that he needs to come here,’’ Stoudemire said. “I’ve talked to Tony Parker. Both guys are ready to join me if I decide to come here.’’
Parker of the Spurs and Anthony of the Nuggets become free agents next season, although Parker could probably be had in a sign-and-trade deal this year because San Antonio is so high on backup point guard George Hill.
Atlanta’s Joe Johnson