Amir Johnson will remain a Raptor.
But he didn’t come cheap.
The unrestricted free agent quickly agreed to remain with the club for five years on Thursday, when GM Bryan Colangelo gave him a five-year, $34-million US offer.
Though the 23-year-old forward/centre averaged just 6.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season, he was one of the team’s hardest workers and best defensive players.
Johnson meshed well with Andrea Bargnani since he did some of the dirty work and rebounding that Bargnani wasn’t willing, or able, to do.
The signing was first reported by Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports but will not be confirmed by the Raptors until the NBA’s veil of secrecy lifts on July 8.
Johnson’s agent, Kevin Bradbury, told Spears: “Amir didn’t want to play the free agency game. He wanted to go back to Toronto. He’s young and he has security and a lot of basketball left in him.”
The contract is no bargain for the Raptors, especially considering Johnson is one of the most foul-prone players in the league and likely will never be able to stay on the court for 30 minutes a night. But it is not necessarily unfair either. Particularly when Drew Gooden and Darko Milicic managed to nab $6.4 and $5 million a season, respectively, Thursday.
Johnson does not have anywhere near the offensive game of the man he ostensibly replaces, Chris Bosh, but in eight April contests – five while Bosh sat out with an injury – Johnson posted impressive averages of 13.4 points and 5.6 rebounds on 73% shooting (17.8 points, 6.0 rebounds starting for Bosh).
Johnson’s presence will allow the team to bring rookie forward Ed Davis along slowly.