The 2019 BIG3 MVP spent his entire first season in the league proving that he still belongs in the NBA. Now it looks like he is getting his chance.
Joe Johnson is close to signing with the Detroit Pistons, according to Jeff Goodman of Stadium. The Pistons, who already had a full roster prior to this move, are likely to release veteran forward Michael Beasley in order to make room for Johnson, per the report. The two would likely have served similar roles in Detroit as bench scorers, so the addition of Johnson would render Beasley redundant.
Johnson, a seven-time All-Star, last played for the Houston Rockets during the 2017-18 season. He had previously suited up for the Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Utah Jazz. He worked out for a number of teams, but it seems as though he has settled on the Pistons as the team he will play for next season.
The Pistons made scoring a priority this offseason. That should come as no surprise given their early playoff exit. Detroit was extremely reliant on Blake Griffin to generate offense last season, but with him injured in their first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, they scored a dismal 96.8 points per 100 possessions.
Their biggest expenditure on that front was the two-year, $15 million contract given to Derrick Rose this offseason. Rose, like Johnson, is a master at creating his own shot. Also like Johnson, he comes with quite a few weaknesses, specifically on defense. In that sense, the fit here is somewhat strange. If Johnson and Rose are meant to share bench lineups, the presence of the other would theoretically undermine both of their effectiveness.
But Rose and Griffin both have extensive injury histories, and so does starting point guard Reggie Jackson. Johnson is 38 years old. The Pistons may view Johnson as an insurance policy above all else. They need as many potential scoring options as possible knowing that there is a good chance some of them are not available or effective when it counts.
Johnson is the first player to use the BIG3 as a launching pad back into the NBA, but now that he has done so successfully, he could serve as inspiration for other players to do the same. Many have speculated that Carmelo Anthony could follow a similar path next summer if he fails to find a new NBA home this season. There will never be a shortage of big-name players looking for one last shot at glory in the NBA. Johnson is proof that the BIG3 can help them get it, and that should only help its own recruiting efforts in the coming years.