Joe Johnson spurned Cavs because Heat “a piece away from being at top”

Joe Johnson believed Miami was one or two players away from a title run. (Getty Images)
Joe Johnson believed Miami was one or two players away from a title run. (Getty Images)

The race for Joe Johnson last month essentially came down to the Heat and Cavaliers, two teams that are always angling at each other and will meet Saturday in Miami.

While many expected Johnson to land with LeBron James in Cleveland, more than anything because that team is clearly in championship contention while Miami is still working toward that goal, he chose the Heat. Johnson spoke about picking between the two teams after today’s practice:

How much did the Cavs pursue you?
Johnson: “They made an effort. I got a lot of what I would call family over there as far as Tyronn Lue and Larry Drew, guys that I played with. I know those guys fairly well.”

Did LeBron talk to you?
Johnson: “Yeah, he reached out to me. That was basically it. He reached out.”

Is it correct that it came down to Cleveland or Miami?
Johnson: “Fairly. I had a nice selection of teams I could’ve went to, obviously, but when it came down to it they were the top.”

Did you choose Miami for short-term or long-term reasons?
Johnson: “Both. It’s late in my career, man. I’ll be 35 this year. I was looking more for some security, not necessarily a verbal commitment or anything like that, but somewhere I could really play and come out and enjoy the game.”

So why Miami?
Johnson: “Having (Dwyane) Wade here and talking to (Udonis Haslem) and Amar’e (Stoudemire), and their style of play. Style of play was probably the biggest difference. They told me they wanted to get up and down the floor and run, and that enticed me. I thought it was the best fit.”

So the change they made at the All-Star break sold you?
Johnson: “Yeah, their fast pace was pretty much a deal (sealer) for me. Everybody can push the basketball, make plays and keep the floor space. I think it helps.”

How was Miami the better short-term option given that Cleveland is way ahead in the standings?
Johnson: “Style of play, man. Getting up and down the floor. And just knowing this team was a piece or two away from possibly being at the top. I just wanted to help in some form or fashion.”

[Hassan Whiteside with some terrific quotes on how he was officiated vs. Hornets]

[Erik Spoelstra says “no regrets” on losing out on Marvin Williams in free agency]

[Behind the scenes: A practice-court story from Erik Spoelstra and Josh Richardson worth reading]

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