As you may have heard, Ivan Johnson will be playing in China next season.
My simple question is… why?
It was my understanding back in late-June/early-July that Ivan was unlikely to be brought back due his outwardly rebellious nature. I mean, this is the guy that is banned from the Korean Basketball League. While Ivan’s behavior in the NBA hasn’t been as noteworthy, he was still a guy that was continuously in Coach Drew’s doghouse for things like showing up late to meetings, practices, games, etc.
So even though I didn’t anticipate seeing Ivan in an ATL uniform for the 2013-14 season, I did think he would make it with another team, even at a price tag worth more than the veteran’s minimum. His per game averages of 6.6 points and 3.9 rebounds may not sound that game changing, but consider that Ivan was only playing 15 minutes a game. Those are per-36 averages of almost 16 points and nine rebounds. On the more advanced side of stats, he had a PER of 15.7 and a true-shooting of 54.6%, which is higher than the league average. He’s also a positive defender that is capable of defending all three frontcourt positions. Even if he can be a little rough on a team’s PR department, those are still good enough stats and attributes to be in an NBA team’s rotation.
The good news for Ivan Johnson fans is that his agent hints they may be back in the NBA once the Chinese season is over. The Chinese season ends in March and Ivan will still be eligible to sign with any team. With this being the case, I could definitely see Ivan getting looks from some of the league’s contenders in hopes of adding an impact bench player before the playoffs. (ala Tracy McGrady with the Spurs… except that Ivan would probably get real playing time)
Let’s take a look back at some of Ivan’s best moments as a Hawk. (WARNING: NSFW language)