The new guy: Joe Johnson signs with Heat, could debut Sunday
MIAMI (AP) — Dwyane Wade’s recruiting pitch obviously worked on Joe Johnson.
And the Miami Heat have another shooter for their playoff push.
Adding another player with All-Star pedigree to their locker room, the Heat signed Johnson on Saturday night — almost immediately after he cleared waivers following the completion of his buyout from the Brooklyn Nets. Johnson had other suitors, Cleveland and his former Atlanta club among them, but didn’t need long to decide that Miami was the right spot for him right now.
"Joe is a friend of mine. I tried to do my best job of trying to paint the picture that this is a good place to be," Wade said in Boston on Saturday, after Miami’s loss to the Celtics ended around the same time that Johnson was putting pen to paper. "I make sure he sees my name in his inbox a lot, but he made a decision from there what’s best for him."
Johnson is expected to be with the Heat when they visit the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.
"He’s a great piece for any team," Cleveland’s LeBron James told reporters Friday, when he made it known that the Cavaliers were among the teams pursuing Johnson.
The Heat would agree with their former star forward on this one.
Johnson averaged 11.8 points with the Nets this season, but his shooting is something Miami desperately wanted. Johnson has 85 3-pointers this season, more than any Heat player. Miami’s 3-point leader this season was Chris Bosh with 81, and Bosh hasn’t played since the All-Star break because a blood clot formed in his left leg.
Bosh has not commented about his status, and the situation is not what it was last year when a clot that formed in his leg traveled to one of his lungs. The team has not even been able to publicly confirm that Bosh has a blood clot, presumably at his behest.
"To put somebody on the floor that can shoot the ball, can score different areas of the floor, make plays, it just adds to what we’re trying to do," Wade said. "Obviously losing Chris right now … (Johnson is) another playmaker, another scorer."
Tyler Johnson and Beno Udrih have also been out after surgeries, and Gerald Green — who has been a vital wing in Miami’s rotation at times this season — hasn’t scored a single point in his last three games and has missed his last 13 shots from the floor.
There are luxury-tax ramifications for Miami to consider now, after making an array of deals at the trade deadline to escape paying the repeater tax. Johnson would push them back over that tax threshold for now, though there are still moves the Heat can make to avoid paying that punitive repeater number.
That’s for later. For now, the Heat were just thrilled to land a seven-time All-Star.
"Welcome to HeatNation Joe," Heat managing general partner Micky Arison wrote on Twitter. "Look forward to seeing u and your MiamiHEAT teammates at MSG tomorrow."
Joe Johnson’s role with the Heat will likely need some time to evolve. Including playoffs, he has started each of his last 1,020 NBA appearances.
The 34-year-old played his college basketball at Arkansas, was drafted by the Celtics No. 10 overall in 2001 and has also played for Phoenix and Atlanta before going to Brooklyn.
He has 1,797 3-pointers in his career, 10th in NBA history, and has been to the playoffs in 10 seasons.
"Open arms in Miami for him," Wade said.