UPDATE (3:10 p.m. ET): It looks like Joe Johnson indeed will find a new home in Miami with the Heat.
ORIGINAL STORY: Joe Johnson appears close to joining a contender, but it’s not the one currently atop the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
The Miami Heat have emerged as the “front-runner” to sign the veteran free agent, ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported Friday. Broussard cautioned in a tweet that nothing is final until contracts are signed, as several playoff teams, including the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, reportedly also have expressed interest in Johnson. But the ESPN analyist added that Johnson “feels he’d have a larger role & more meaningful minutes” in Miami.
The Brooklyn Nets waived Johnson on Thursday during the 34-year-old’s fourth season with the team. The seven-time All-Star likely will command a high salary, but as a clutch finisher with 87 games of playoff experience, Johnson would be a solid addition for any team hoping to make a deep playoff push.
Johnson joining the Heat also would shake things up in the crowded East. Miami currently is 9 1/2 games behind the Cavs for first place but is only one game behind the Celtics, who own the No. 3 seed in the conference.
If the veteran-laden Heat, who already have proven stars in Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and budding young talent in Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow, can sign Johnson and get decent production from him off the bench, they could enter the conversation as a dark-horse candidate in the East.
Thumbnail photo via Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports Images