Friday, 21 September 2012

Volatile Johnson handed second Hawks chance

The Atlanta Hawks, who will be attempting to reach the play-offs for a sixth successive season in 2012-13, have re-signed the restricted free agent Ivan Johnson.

The 28-year-old forward, a favourite among NBA stream seekers, averaged 6.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 16.7 minutes in 56 games from the bench for the Hawks in 2011-12 and had an impressive 0.513 field goal percentage.

He was named the Rookie of the Month for April in the Eastern Conference after being a surprise addition to Atlanta’s roster at the beginning of last season when he impressed during training camp.

Johnson’s career was been plagued by anger-management issues though. After playing college basketball for Cisco Junior College in Texas and Los Angeles Southwest Junior College, he was transferred to the University of Oregon, where his coach refused to extend his scholarship.

He began his professional career in the NBA D-League where he played for the Anaheim Arsenal and Rio Grande Valley Vipers before trying his luck in South Korea where he signed for the Changwon LG Sakers and then Jeonju KCC Egis in the Korean Basketball League.

However, he was “banned forever” from the KBL for directing a middle-finger gesture at a referee.

The Hawks signed Johnson in December 2011 and he made his name as a productive rotation player when Al Horford and Jason Collins suffered injuries.

However, his temper continues to get the better of him at times and he was sent home from a game in Orlando in April by coach Larry Drew and fined after arguing with team-mates on the bench.

He responded by scoring a career-high 21 points against the Toronto Raptors in his next appearance for the Hawks.

Johnson was also fined by the NBA for gesturing towards fans when leaving the court following Atlanta’s final play-off loss to Boston last season. It was a move that attracted a lot of criticism from supporters who tune in to watch NBA online.

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