Toronto Sun

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.

National Post

But as Bosh departs to apathy and anger, someone should mount a defence of his time in Toronto. So here it is: Chris Bosh never let this city down, not really. He loved it here. But he should leave.

The complaints about Bosh always seemed to centre around what he wasn’t, rather than appreciating what he was. He was never Kobe, or LeBron, or Dwyane Wade. He’s not truly a player worth a maximum contract. He can’t carry a franchise by himself.

Well, since there are perhaps six or seven players who can — the aforementioned three, plus Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, a healthy Chris Paul, and maybe Dirk Nowitzki — that’s common criticism. As for being a max player, well, Rudy Gay got something very close to a max deal from Memphis yesterday, and he was 43rd in per-minute scoring last season. Joe Johnson got a full max offer from Atlanta, and he averaged 12.8 points on 30% shooting as the Hawks were swept out of the second round by more than 20 points per game.

So clearly Bosh is a max player in this climate, being ninth in per-minute scoring last season, fractions behind Nowitzki and Amar’e Stoudemire; finishing fourth in Player Efficiency Rating, behind only LeBron, Wade and Durant; being the only guy in the NBA in the top 10 in scoring (24.0, ninth) and rebounding (10.8, sixth).

He may be injury-prone, and he may be flawed, but Bosh is one of the better players in basketball.

Toronto Sun

Meanwhile, the Raptors might actually be better off avoiding paying Bosh $17-20 million a year for the next six seasons. Speaking of Bosh, he was wooed by the team favoured to land his services, the Miami Heat and came away lauding the franchise and its president/GM Pat Riley. “Off to a great start. First one went well. Pat Riley is passionate about winning,” Bosh said via his favourite line of communication, Twitter.

Bosh already has received presentations from the Heat, Raptors, Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets. He is expected to meet with the Bulls in Chicago Friday, but the Heat remain the front-runners.

Toronto Sun

According to ESPN, Turkoglu is making things right after chatting extensively with new Toronto assistant P.J. Carlesimo, a friend dating to their days in San Antonio.

ESPN translated part of Turkoglu’s latest interview:

“As a basketball player, my only goal is to perform at the highest level again. I want to play in a system that fits me,” Turkoglu said. That jives with his recent remarks that his only issues here were with the way he was (under) utilized.

Turkoglu thrives as a facilitator, but played off the ball too much last season.

He added:

“Everybody makes mistakes, that’s a fact. Both parties think that it’s time to correct them. Toronto wants me back and to take the leading role. I’m happy that Carlesimo is here, and we will all see what summer brings. I don’t have any problems with the city of Toronto or the Raptors. I want to be able to perform at the highest level.”

The development is good news for the Raptors as a motivated and more featured Turkoglu will be able to up his trade value significantly from its current rock-bottom state.

Globe and Mail

“There were a lot of teams that expressed interest but [Raptors president/general manager] Bryan Colangelo stepped up right away and made very clear that Amir was a priority,” Johnson’s agent, Bill Duffy, said.

What priority the Raptors are for Bosh, however, wasn’t clear.

Thursday’s meeting with Colangelo, just hours after Bosh became an unrestricted free agent, was the first among several the 26-year-old five-time NBA all-star has scheduled, as it appears he’s intent on leaving the only franchise he’s known.

With such a departure imminent, signing Johnson become even more important.

Meanwhile, the Raptors were also trying to smooth the waters with other members of their roster and took a solid step forward with Hedo Turkoglu, who appeared on Turkish television saying a visit by new assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo has helped him warm up to the idea of returning to Toronto after a difficult first season.

Johnson’s statistical production was relatively modest: Averaging 6.2 points and 4.8 rebounds a game while shooting 62.3 per cent from the floor in 2009-10. But he was a genial dressing room presence and consistent, hustling contributor off the bench who showed signs of better things to come (17.8 points and 6.0 rebounds a game, while shooting 69.6 per cent from the floor in five chances as a starter late in the season).

He earned $3.6-million last season, and got his raise in a heated free-agent market where as many as eight teams have $16-million of room under the salary cap.

Toronto Star

Despite being one of the four teams to visit with Bosh in the 24 hours after the negotiating window opened, the Raptors appear no closer to a resolution of their biggest issue and therefore no closer to resolving many of the other niggling details of filling out the roster.

Representatives of the Raptors met with Bosh in the middle of the night Thursday in Dallas but came away unable to figure out where he might want to play.

That’s been the story with Bosh and all the other top free agents, who have been holding meetings but not making decisions since the free-agent market opened at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

Bosh, who met with the Raptors about 2 a.m. Thursday after hosting representatives of the Houston Rockets, was scheduled to meet with the Chicago Bulls on Friday and, according to reports, should meet with New York Knicks officials as well.

Raptor sources have said the Dallas Mavericks also have some interest in the five-time all-star.

Toronto’s foray to Bosh’s camp in the first two hours of free agency wasn’t unexpected. While there is little or no chance that Bosh, 26, will remain with the team as he explores free agency, the Raptors want to get a sense of where he’d like to go.

According to team sources, Toronto has the parameters of five or six sign-and-trade scenarios worked out for Bosh but is waiting to hear from him on where he’d like to play next season.

National Post

It is understandable that Johnson would want to stay with Toronto. With Bosh all but gone from the team, minutes in the front court should open up for Johnson, along with first-round draft choice Ed Davis.

Beyond that, however, Johnson enjoyed his best season as a professional last year with the Raptors. After struggling to find time with the Pistons in the first four years of his career, Johnson found his niche as the first big man off the bench behind Bosh and Bargnani. He played a career-high in minutes, averaging 17:41 per outing.

Basketball Outsider

With Bosh officially gone from Canada, Toronto’s first priority should be to find a cleanup guy and rim protector to save Bargnani defensively. Behind Bosh last season, he averaged 6.2 rebounds and a 10.4 rebounding percentage which finally made it clear he’s not a Center. The Italian should slide back to the PF slot now and become the team’s main low post presence but in order for it to work, the Raptors need to find somebody who can crowd the paint, so Bargnani can step outside and be the Dirk Nowitzki we all expect him to become. That’s not Amir Johnson.

And by giving Johnson the extension, such a massive one, Colangelo proves he doesn’t have his priorities straight. If we got to such a point where it’s OK to pay a rotation player $34 mil over 5, the lockout isn’t just pendent, it’s necessary, so this decision makers could save themselves from themselves.

Houston Chronicle

Bosh met with Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in Dallas late Wednesday night and also had preliminary talks with representatives from the Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls. He then flew to Chicago, where his agent Henry Thomas is based, to begin meetings that Thomas characterized as more substantial than the initial conversations in Dallas.

Morey worked to get on that guest list, too, while also beginning recruiting efforts with a potential backup center, Bulls free agent Brad Miller.

Talks with Bosh, however, seemed to stall, with Thomas quickly downplaying the importance of the meeting Morey did get with the 6-10 forward.

“(The Rockets) dropped something off to him and chatted briefly,” Thomas said. “They will be on the radar.”

Morey described Bosh as enthusiastic and interested, and his own recruiting efforts as more than just delivering a package.

Bosh, however, described his sessions in Chicago, rather than the meeting in Dallas, as the start of the process.

Bosh met with the Heat and New Jersey Nets, and after the meeting with Miami team president Pat Riley and former star center Alonzo Mourning, Bosh posted on Twitter, “Off to a great start. First one went well. Pat Riley is very passionate about winning.”

Bosh will meet with Bulls representatives today.

The Heat and Bulls are considered the front-runners to sign Bosh.

While both teams try to land LeBron James, the Heat can offer Bosh a chance to play with Dwyane Wade and a reconstructed team, and the Bulls offer a chance to play with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

The New York Knicks will meet with Bosh and Wade today in Chicago.

Yahoo

The Houston Rockets would like to snag one of the top free-agent power forwards, such as Chris Bosh or Amar’e Stoudemire, but it would have to do a sign-and-trade deal in order to get under the salary cap.

Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears has learned from his league sources that the Rockets are offering Trevor Ariza, Shane Battier, and free agent Luis Scola to other teams in hopes of getting such a deal done.

New York Post

Later, the Knicks charter flew to Chicago to meet with Dwyane Wade at 10 a.m. today, followed by Chris Bosh.

Raptors president Bryan Colangelo, according to a source, is hotly pursuing Knicks free agent David Lee and would love to work out a sign-and-trade with the Knicks for Bosh.

However, Lee is meeting with the Bulls in Chicago today and has Toronto not very high on his list. Colangelo might fly out to meet Lee in Chicago today also.

The Picket Fence

Colangelo needs to realize that retooling is not going to be the way to go. Sure, it will help reassure some of the ticketholders that only see one season ahead, and aren’t worried about the difference between competing and contending. Bringing in Amare, or some other move like it, will certainly make the Raptors more competitive, but it’s not going to make them contenders. They need to rebuild, not retool. One of the reasons I liked the drafting of Ed Davis was because he can be the symbol of the type of team the Raptors need to turn themselves into. He’s a smart, defensive player who does all the little things that you need to do to win. He’s San Antonio, not Phoenix. I don’t know about you, but I want San Antonio. San Antonio won three Championships and was one of the most dominant teams in the last ten years. Phoenix entertained and did well in the regular season, but never made it to the Finals.

NBA Roundtable

This was a very good signing by Bryan Colangelo. Amir Johnson was good value and has considerable areas for improvement. Down the road, this could become an exceptional move.

Fan590

Amir Johnson signs for 5 years and $34 million with the Raptors.

Is that a ‘bad’ deal for Toronto?

Well, the Raptors wanted him back.  Toronto needed a guy that could help lessen the absence of Chris Bosh, and a guy that they don’t have to worry about ‘feeding’ very often on the offensive end either.  Johnson is going to rebound and block shots and bring energy to the floor.  That’s what the Raptors needed/wanted and they now have it.

On average, Johnson will earn about $6.8 million over the course of his 5 year deal.  Given that he made $3.9 million last year, you had to know that he was going to get a raise.  But the ‘haters’ have been coming out of the woodwork since Johnson’s deal was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

Many folks are saying that the Raptors paid too steep a price for Johnson.  Some are calling bloody murder!

Listen … you’ve gotta relax and take a step back.

Again, after earning $3.9 million last year … looking at a bigger role (possibly as a starter) with the club … knowing that he still has ‘youth’ and ‘upside’ and ‘potential’ in his corner … Johnson and his agent were in a very strong position.  And in the end, they got a very good deal – a $3 million raise!

However, when you really crunch the numbers … the deal isn’t THAT bad – if you’re honest with yourself!

Raptors Digest

With the roster as it currently stands we would hope that Amir Johnson and Ed Davis open the season as starters, though it is likely Bargnani will be Amir’s front-court mate to open the campaign.

Amir Johnson is a double-double waiting to happen and if he can cut down on his penchant for fouls can become a force on the offensive end despite his current limitations.

Amir Johnson has admittedly been working on his jump-shot as he is wisely expecting a bigger offensive role on the Raptors this season.

RaptorsHQ

Well, the re-signing part isn’t shockking, but paying Amir $7M per season…that might be…

…if this wasn’t Bryan Colangelo.

Yes, I’m happy that Amir, an underrated defender, rebounder and shot-blocker is back, but it’s a bit of a hefty price tag for someone who still struggles with foul issues is it not?

In fact, you have to wonder if Bryan Colangelo didn’t back himself into a corner on this one; it sounds like teams such as Golden State were interested, and by paving the way for Chris Bosh to leave, it doesn’t sound like he had much choice really…unless he wanted to kick off the Ed Davis Era.

The Score

Money that you would expect to be spent on a starter. With Chris Bosh’s future as a Raptor looking bleaker by the day/meeting/tweet, Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors wasted little time getting Johnson resigned, hardly a surprise after Johnson himself told us that Colangelo was, “100 percent committed” to bringing him back. The amount of the deal was more of a surprise, because if Johnson is going to slide into a starting role he will have to learn how to cut down his fouls — averaging 6.5 personal fouls per 36 minutes of burn over his career isn’t going to cut it.

Bleacher Report

Toronto Raptors reached an agreement in principle with Johnson, a reported five-year contract worth $34 million.

Johnson in averaging 17 minutes of playing time a game with Toronto last year was able to grab five rebounds and score six points a game. T

he big question in Toronto will be whether Johnson will able to step up his productivity for the Raptors once Bosh leaves Toronto and he is able to see more playing time.

Fanway

Johnson is still young (23-years-old), but has been in the league for five years already after being drafted by the Pistons out of high school in 2005.  In the beginning of his career, Johnson showed a lot of promise as a shot-blocker and rebounder, but never received the consistent playing time to see his skills come to fruition.  The Raptors must have a lot of faith in the 6’9" power forward as he will likely be the player to benefit most from a Chris Bosh departure from Toronto this  summer.  However, that’s a lot of faith that a young player can make a big step up in his game with increased minutes, let alone replacing Bosh, one of the better players in the league.

Pro Basketball News

Amir Johnson wanted to be in Toronto, which was enough for the Raptors to over-spend for his services. Sure, maybe he would’ve gotten a similar offer elsewhere, but the fact Canada’s team wanted to nip any potential departure in the bud suggests it’s spooked. Johnson is only 23 years old and has a fairly bright future, but he’s being put in an awfully tough position, likely being asked to emerge as Bosh’s replacement despite never having played more than 18 minutes per game in a single season. Paid like a starter, better play like a starter.

Richmond Times-Dispatch

If NBA players can be seen shooting hoops in a local high school, that can mean only one thing: The Tri-City Summer League is back.

Featuring Richmond’s past, present and future basketball stars, the league begins Tuesday and runs through July 29. All games are played at John Marshall High School.

While the league’s purpose is exhibition, another term that characterizes the league is domination. In the league’s 10-year history, the team built around Virginia Union alumnus and Detroit Pistons big man Ben Wallace has won the championship eight times.

His team, Wallace Express, won the championship game last year over DTLR 102-101 when T.J. Grimes hit a controversial 3-pointer at the buzzer. DTLR claimed the buzzer went off before the ball left Grimes’ hand, but that’s not how the referees called it.

Like last year, 2010 presents plenty of threats to Wallace’s crown.

First, there is Team Davis, led by former North Carolina, Hanover and Benedictine star Ed Davis, VCU’s Bradford Burgess and former Highland Springs star Jay Threatt. Davis was taken by the Toronto Raptors with the 13th pick in last month’s NBA draft.

Chicago Sun-Times

Much more will be on the line today when the Bulls sit down with power forward Chris Bosh in Chicago. (Like Wade, Bosh is represented by Chicago-based agent Henry Thomas.)

The Bulls would love to strike a quick deal with Bosh to make their roster even more attractive to LeBron James, but that’s unlikely to happen because they don’t have enough money to offer two maximum contracts.

The Bulls have five players under contract for a total just under $32 million. The projected salary cap is $56.1 million, but that doesn’t mean they will have $34 million of cap room.

Because they have fewer than 12 players on the roster, the Bulls have a cap hold of $473,604 (the minimum rookie salary) for each empty roster spot, reducing their available cap room to roughly $31million, which is not nearly enough to pay two maximum contracts of $16.8 million.

Although the Bulls can try to work out a sign-and-trade with the Toronto Raptors, the only way that would seem to work is if Luol Deng and his $11 million-plus salary is included. Trading Taj Gibson ($1.1 million) and James Johnson ($1.7 million) won’t be enough because the roster holds would eat up much of the savings.

Of course, the Bulls could make it work by trading Joakim Noah, but that isn’t an option they are likely to consider.

The best option may be working out a sign-and-trade after convincing Bosh to take less money, which would be a tough sell.

Bosh arrived in town on Thursday and met with the Heat.

ProBasketballTalk

* Amir Johnson was given a five-year, $34 million deal by the Toronto Raptors. The fact you just asked yourself "Who is Amir Johnson?" says all you need to know about the contracts given out today. He’s a solid backup big who just got a $34 million deal.

* Chris Bosh sat down with Miami’s Pat Riley, as well as representatives from the Nets. More meetings including Chicago are to come. But the dark horse in all of this is Houston — Bosh met with Daryl Morey, who gave him a personal iPad that had video testimonials from Yao Ming and others. If Bosh is serious about winning, Houston has to be considered (and they have plenty to offer in a sign and trade, maybe the best of Toronto’s options).

Toronto Sports Media

With the Raptors, I don’t know enough to comment on specifics. He’s a young kid who made $3.9m last year. Given his young age, you knew he was going to make more money not less and the chatter seemed to be that there was some competition for his services. 3.9 to 6.8 (avg) is a hefty raise I do admit. With the Raptors, I’ve decided to reserve all judgment until the Bosh saga ends. I want to see what exactly Colangelo does, what he is left with and how he handles this.

Opposing Views

Even though Johnson expressed excitement at the time about being reunited on the court with his friends that wasn’t his only reason for returning to the Air Canada Centre for some workouts. Last season his game improved leaps and bounds after spending a lot of time working with assistant coach Alex English and Johnson was attempting to steal some more more moves from the Hall of Fame big man.

“You know how English always had the ball up (when taking a jump shot) and get his shot off over anybody? I’m kind of stealing that from him,” Johnson admitted to Hoops Addict back in June.

It will be interesting to see what areas of Johnson’s game the two men continue to work on and how that allows the talented big man to continue to grow. Last season Johnson was able to bump his field goal percentage from an impressive 59% his last season in Detroit to a stunning 62% after spending a season working with English.

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