Could the Raptors trade James Johnson in the next few hours? It's a distinct possibility. The Raptors don't exactly have a lot of salary ballast to move around, despite an obvious need at power forward. Patrick Patterson (the team's best power forward) is the name that comes up most often in trade talks, thanks to his $6.2 million year. But Johnson is in the mix. He's getting $2.5 million in the final year of his deal and has useful NBA skills -- secondary ball handling, elite driving ability, on-ball defensive power. He could help a team.
But I'd like Johnson to finish this season as a Raptor. Perhaps it's my selfish desire to write this column every week (OK, it's mostly that), but Johnson on this team as the emergency 10th man just feels right. Yes, he shouldn't be getting starters minutes, or even (in most cases) a ton of bench minutes. But every few games JJ comes in and makes some subtly eye-popping plays -- a beautiful roll pass to Jonas, an aggressive post move, a drive from the top of the circle that ends with a smooth layup -- that shake things up for Toronto. Johnson doesn't have to play much to have an impact (and as I've mentioned his locker room and style game remain on point).
If you want my opinion, I think the Raptors are going to stand pat this deadline day. They'll wait for DeMarre Carroll to come back and they'll lean more on small ball lineups in the playoffs (ones that dodge the JV-Scola combo) and they'll make as good a run as they can. Maybe it'll be enough, maybe not, but at least Johnson will be a part of it.
Did James Johnson Play?
No, silly, it was the NBA's All-Star Weekend, where we got to watch the Jason Sudeikis-Win Butler celeb game showdown, Aaron Gordon defy the lies of gravity, and the league's biggest and brightest stars jog up and down the court for a few hours. Yeah, it was thrilling. Sting was involved.
There were no James Johnson sightings (despite my best efforts).
Johnson speaks on his time off:
He seems in good spirits doesn't he?
Prediction for the Week
Assuming Johnson isn't included in a trade in the next few hours, he'll be with the Raptors for upcoming games against the Bulls, Grizzlies, Knicks and Timberwolves (on a road, home, road, home variation). The feeling in the above video -- and Johnson's previous claims of a Wolverine-like healing factor -- suggest he'll be back playing to some extent. DeMarre Carroll is still not walking back through that door, so, while Norm Powell is doing what he can, the Raptors will need some Johnson minutes at the 3.
Over/Under Minutes: 38.5
Johnson is back. 30 games to go. Let's get it.