We've resisted the rumors that Sam Smith put out a week ago (H/T Blog-A-Bull) that theorized a Joe Johnson deal to Chicago for Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson, and draft picks. The notion was total speculation and not based in sources in the Bulls front office.
Yesterday we heard Ric Bucher once again tell the ESPN Radio world that he thought Johnson was a best bet to go to....the Bulls in a SNT (sign and trade) scenario. Bucher made no mention of potential players from Chicago in yesterday's discussion, but his confidence in his opinion gives rise to the 2 questions:
Do Hawks fans want to trade Joe Johnson?
What would the Hawks want from Chicago in a SNT for Joe?
UPDATE: We've updated the story to include some insight from Matt over at Blog-A-Bull regarding the opinion of Joe going to the Bulls and what cost is likely and acceptable to the team/fans. (thank you, Matt!)
First question answered: I believe that, while most folks, like myself, have a deep appreciation for Joe's work as a Hawk, if his contract goes beyond the scope of a three season deal, then it's probably best to get the best possible deal instead either Joe leaving for nothing or saddling the franchise to a deal that would come back to haunt the team beyond the next season or two.
We covered off on the subject during the season, and Bret @ Hoopinion reinforced it---Joe is likely to decline significantly way sooner than his next contract is ready to expire. A couple of months back, Bronn showed that the decline might have already begun.
Again, it's not a matter of lack of respect for Joe or a belief that he could still help this team next season---but it's based in the reality that the Hawks can't eat money the way the Dallas Mavericks or New York Knicks can do---and Joe's contract is likely to extend beyond his production matching his compensation.
So that brings us to Question #2---what would we want in a SNT for Joe?
It's my belief the Hawks need to address their point guard situation first and foremost. But a team trading for Johnson isn't about to deal a top tier point guard because they are likely acquiring Joe to be a final piece to drive them further ahead next season, not a swap of building blocks.
So that brings us to Chicago. While we would love to have Joakim Noah despite all the potential Josh Smith consequences that would result, but I think that most Bulls fans believe the core starts with Derrick Rose and concludes with Noah. So that's a no. As Smith indicated, they could indeed part with Hinrich, who qualifies as an expendable asset with Rose on-hand and Johnson starting at the shooting guard position. Hinrich has two years and 17 million left on his deal and Gibson would be cheap labor locked up for a long period of time plus whatever draft pick(s) may be in the mix add to the sweetness of the deal. Assuming the two teams would work through cap issues (if any) this could be the type of deal the Hawks could be facing in a SNT deal for Joe.
UPDATE (from above the jump):
Exit Question: Is this kind of deal palatable for Hawks fans (or Bulls fans for that matter)? Would you prefer to let Joe walk and just use some space for flexibility (understanding that we would not be able to sign a FA at the same level as Joe even if he walked)? Or pay Joe and play Joe, hoping we're wrong about his "sure" decline?