At Thursday's "baggie day", as it's called, there were a lot of questions about the Nets' top players --about Deron Williams and Brook Lopez's health, about Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett's future, but nothing about the guy who dominated the playoffs for Brooklyn --and almost singlehandedly won Game 5 vs. the Heat.
Seemed about right: Joe Johnson is the quiet storm. He doesn't create controversy (unless you're a Raptor fan and he got selected for the All-Star Game over Kyle Lowry.) Doesn't say much either. Just goes about his work, competently, without complaint.
But this year's playoffs may have signaled a shift for Joe Jesus. After deferring most of the last two years to others, he was "The Man" for the Nets in the post-season.
Over 12 games, he averaged 21.2 points a game, way ahead of the team's No. 2 scorer, Pierce who averaged 13.7 and almost double Williams' output. He also shot 53.3 percent overall, 41.5 percent from three and 83.7 from the stripe. He played 39 minutes per game He saved his best for last.
In Game 5, Johnson finished with 34 points, shot a blistering 15-of-23 (65.2 percent) overall and 3-of-6 from deep including one that must have given Erik Spoelstra agita with 11 to go. He also grabbed seven rebounds and handed out three assists in 42 minutes.
Is he likely to be "The Man" again next season too? He's proven he can do it. (And if Carmelo Anthony leaves the Knicks, he will be the best player in New York.)
For all the talk about the Boston trade, there's been little about the one that brought Johnson to Brooklyn. A reminder: the deal was Jordan Farmar, Jordan Williams, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro and a signed and traded DeShawn Stevenson plus a pick that became Shane Larkin and an agreement to swap two picks, one of which is outstanding.
Johnson is no longer "that contract." He's Joe Jesus, as KG says, "He may not be there when you call him but he's there when you need him."