Joe Johnson said he’s made South Florida his summer home “for the last six or seven years.”
It’s where he’s come to work out and relax in the offseason and where he brought his children last month to hang out during the NBA All-Star break.
“I had a place [here],” Johnson said after Tuesday morning’s shoot-around at AmericanAirlines Arena. “But I sold it a couple years ago.”
If things work out this summer, Johnson, who turns 35 on June 29, will be looking for more than just temporary housing.
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The seven-time All-Star said Tuesday that part of the bait team president Pat Riley tossed his way when convincing him to sign with the Heat over the weekend was a future in Miami beyond this season.
“The most important thing Pat told me was that this wasn’t just a short-term deal, that he would like for me to finish my career here. That’s what we’re working toward,” said Johnson, who left $3 million on the table when the Brooklyn Nets bought him out last week.
“Hopefully, I can finish my career here,” he continued. “I know nothing is set in stone. We’ve still got work left to do. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. I’m looking forward to it. It's a challenge. But I’m looking forward to it.”
Johnson, who had signed the NBA’s then-richest deal at six years, $119 million back in 2010, will have to take a lot less money than what the Nets gave himto make it work in Miami.
As it stands, the Heat will have about $37 million in cap space for next season. The team would likely need all that space if it chooses to re-sign its own free agents (Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside, Luol Deng) as well as any others.
The Heat has only five players signed for next season (Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic, Josh McRoberts, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson) and $48.9 million in salary invested among them. Tyler Johnson is the only player the Heat can go over the salary cap to re-sign.
Since Joe Johnson relinquished his Bird Rights when he negotiated his buyout, he would have to fit into the Heat's cap space (the NBA cap is expected to grow between $89 and 90 million next season), unless he accepts a minimal contract or a small exception.
Still, Johnson’s longtime friendship with Wade, who helped recruit him to the Heat, could help both sides find a way to make it work.
“I really didn't know much about the Heat organization and how they worked,” Johnson said. “The things I heard were that they were very first class. But, just in the past couple days I've seen a lot things I haven’t seen in my 15-year career. I’ve been impressed.”
Johnson mentioned the Heat’s weight training program and the close-knit locker room as examples.
CLEARING THE AIR
Amar’e Stoudemire said he made a phone call to former Knicks teammate Carmelo Anthony Tuesday to clear the air.
Stoudemire made pregame comments in New York on Sunday about some former Knicks teammates not enjoying the success of Jeremy Lin back in 2011-12 season.
Some media outlets suggested those comments were directed at Anthony.
“I never mentioned his name once,” Stoudemire said Wednesday. “We’re close friends, family. Our kids were born a couple months apart. Our wives are very close friends. He knows I wasn’t talking about him.”