Nearly a month ago, the Atlanta Hawks extended a qualifying offer to Ivan Johnson, who starred for the Erie BayHawks in the 2010-11 season.
The deal is for one year and nearly a million dollars guaranteed. Not bad for someone who didn’t make $30,000 in the D-League with the BayHawks.
Basically, the Hawks can match any offer sheet Johnson signs as a restricted free agent. The reserve power forward averaged 6.4 points and four boards in 56 games for Atlanta in the shortened 2011-12 season.
With no news of any other team offering Johnson a deal, it appears Johnson will be back in Atlanta if he chooses to sign with the Hawks. The deal expires Oct. 1, but the Hawks could extend the date.
Johnson came into the NBA with his share of issues I saw first hand while he was with the BayHawks, but he also arrived hungry and determined to stick.
The latter shined brighter even though his pocket was $25,000 lighter after getting fined for flipping off fans after the Boston Celtics eliminated the Hawks in Game 6 of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
The key for Johnson, who turned 28 in April, is to stay hungry and find that unique balance of playing hard, spirited, but not reckless. Johnson has to walk that line to maximize his full ability.
If he plays passive, he’s not effective.
If he plays too fiery, he loses control.
If he plays better than he did last year, Johnson will get more than a qualifying offer after the 2012-13 season.