I don’t think most people realize that James Johnson is getting paid fifteen million dollars this season and has a player option for sixteen million dollars next season (if you’re like me and all these contractual concepts confuse you, a “player option” is when the player can just tell his team “you have to pay me that money” and they have no choice in the matter). That amount of money seems insane for a player like James Johnson, who does some good things on the court but isn’t going to alter the direction of your franchise in any significant way. Not only does it SEEM insane, but it IS insane.
JJ’s oversized contract is a result of Pat Riley overpaying to keep together the team of role-players that saw some unexpected success in Miami. Rather than go out and find better players who were worth that money, Riley decided to reward all the players on his team with big contracts that paid them more than they were worth. I guess that makes Miami a better destination in the eyes of free agents (who wouldn’t want to be taken care of by their team?), but it badly messed up their cap situation. Luckily, the Timberwolves stepped in to ease some of the financial burden, and not only are they easing that burden, but they’re also getting production out of JJ that the Heat weren’t getting out of him at all.
If Johnson plays like this every night, his contract is still too big, but it’s not way too big. Sort of like how Johnson himself is still too big, but not way too big. Don’t let him near any church potlucks where they’re serving hot dish and his weight should continue to go in the right direction.