The strong finish of the Miami Heat during the second half of the 2016-17 season has veteran James Johnson excited about the team’s potential. Though his one-year, $4 million deal has expired, Johnson right now appears to have no plans on leaving for another team when free agency arrives in July.
Johnson expressed his opinions while cleaning out his locker at American Airlines Arena on Monday:
James Johnson on Heat organization: “I’m home. That’s how I feel. … I feel really passionate about this place.”
— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) April 17, 2017
“It’s not always greener on the other side,” Johnson said about the possibility of leaving. “That’s the only thing that’s going on in the back of my head right now. I might not have the same opportunities that I had this year — to get out of the box and play the way that I can to contribute to winning. Who knows if I can get that on another team. Money has nothing to do with that. Basketball, I love the game and I love it here.”
James Johnson said he would consider a Big Three sacrifice approach if it meant salary wise bringing the group back.
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) April 17, 2017
“I hope so,” Johnson said. “I really hope so. I love playing with Dion. His heart, his antics, they fire me up. So, I hope so.”
Riley will have an expected $38 million in cap space available when free agency rolls around. Waiters could potentially become a free agent with Johnson because the second year of Waiters’ two-year, $6 million contract is a player option.
Johnson’s popularity with teammates is such that Tyler Johnson specifically asked him to stay around with the Heat and is confident that the request will be granted.
“We already had that talk, he’s staying” Tyler Johnson said, “I can’t imagine him going anywhere else, but you never know.”
The last portion of Tyler Johnson’s remarks are worth noting, considering that Luol Deng uttered many of the same comments that James Johnson stated on Monday. When free agency arrived in July, however, Deng, accepted a $72 million free agent deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
James Johnson isn’t likely to be offered that much by other teams, but unless he’s overwhelmed by a deal, the Heat appear to have a good shot at re-signing him.
“The loyalty with this organization – that’s going to outweigh a lot of other things including money,” Johnson said.