To say that the New York Knicks are a soap opera this season would be a vast understatement. They've dealt with the drama of their best player possibly leaving after the season, their sixth man becoming a team cancer and their coach going from leading a 54 win team to looking unqualified for the lead seat. On top of that they've had injury problems and roster shortcomings, especially in the paint. However, with the availability of Ivan Johnson they may have found a big man to help solidify their frontcourt.
Veteran big man Ivan Johnson had plenty of takers for his services this season. However, he ultimately landed in China playing for the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls where he averaged 25.8 points and 10.2 rebounds in 33.0 minutes per game in 25 contests.
Why China for Ivan Johnson? Agent: "Because this deal was so lucrative it enticed Ivan & I to highly consider other options." Undisclosed $.
The Bulls, Clippers, Knicks and Pacers all had interest in Ivan Johnson. The higher money in China proved to be the key difference.
From his stats it's easy to see that Johnson hasn't playing poorly in China. In fact, he was pretty much playing out of his mind! However, teams are already lining up for him as he's set to return to the NBA.
After all, the Chinese Basketball Association begins in October and ends in February. As a result, Johnson was always expected to return to the NBA to help bolster a teams frontcourt for a run towards the playoffs.
Among those interested are the Knicks who had tried to sign Johnson before he signed in China. At that time, Johnson couldn’t get anything more than the veteran’s minimum. Unfortunately, that's pretty much what he'll be looking at now as well unless the Miami Heat decide to use their mid-level exception on him. However, taking the veteran's minimum is a lot easier after cashing in on his deal in China.
Last season, Johnson averaged 6.6 points and 3.9 rebounds in 15 minutes per game during 69 contests for the Atlanta Hawks. At 6'8" he's undersized but an affective power forward who is strong enough and experienced enough to play center as well.
Clearly, Johnson could help the Knicks. He's a guy who can protect the rim, rebound, finish around the hoop and bring toughness to the court. He'd be a fine signing. That being said, he's not a season saving type player. However, for the veteran minimum the Knicks would be foolish to not try to add Johnson to their roster.
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