Ivan Johnson #44 of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Taj Gibson #22 of the Chicago Bulls at Philips Arena on March 28, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (March 27, 2012 - Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

Atlanta Hawks Issue Qualifying Offer to Ivan Johnson

The Atlanta Hawks extended a qualifying offer to power forward Ivan Johnson by last Sunday’s deadline and now hold the right to match any offer sheet he may sign as a restricted free agent.

Under CBA rules, Johnson’s current offer is for one year and about $966,000 guaranteed. He can sign the offer at any time but must do so before it expires on Oct. 1. However, Atlanta can extend the time period if they want to. If the time period expires and Johnson has still not signed the offer, he would still be a restricted free agent and Atlanta will hold salary-matching rights while the two sides could continue to negotiate on a new contract.

Johnson has had some controversial problems in the past, most notably a few months ago on May 12, when he was fined $25,000 for gesturing the middle finger to a Boston fan following Atlanta’s Game 6 exit to the Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference Finals.

But that wasn’t the first time Johnson flipped someone off while in uniform.

Before suiting up for an NBA team, Johnson played a couple of seasons overseas in the Korean Basketball League for the Changwon LG Sakers and Jeonju KCC Egis from 2008-2010 and was actually “banned forever” by the KBL for directing the middle finger gesture at a referee during the final game of the 2010 championship series. In addition to being banned, the KBL also fined Johnson $4,448 (US).

More recently on April 13, four months after being signed by the Atlanta Hawks, Johnson was sent home and fined an undisclosed amount of money for “conduct detrimental to the team” — three days later he scored a career-high 21 points against the Toronto Raptors.

Regardless of his reputation, it would be wise on the organization’s part to sign Johnson, who developed into a fan favorite last season because of his high motor and physical style of play. He even turned out to be a productive player in his rookie campaign last year, posting 6.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per game, despite staring the season as an undrafted 27-year old rookie.

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