JOE JOHNSON

Cohen’s Analysis: It wasn’t LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki or any of the other notable free agents that year who received the most money. It was Johnson, who signed a six-year, $124 million contract to stay with the Hawks.

Just about everyone bashed Atlanta’s decision to offer Johnson that kind of cash, but at the time to the defense of the Hawks, they really had few other options. They were already a top three team in the East, had advanced to the second round in two straight seasons and were young enough to make further progress.

But reality eventually set in and the Hawks couldn’t take the next step with their core. Johnson was traded in the summer of 2012 to the Nets as part of a blockbuster deal. His contract, which still has two years after this season left on it, is still often discussed in NBA social circles.

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