As the Atlanta Hawks tipped off their game with the Memphis Grizzlies tonight, the team announced that All-Star guard Joe Johnson, the Hawks’ franchise centerpiece and recipient of the most lucrative free-agent contract ($124 million) in the NBA last summer, will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a right elbow injury.
Johnson, who shoots with his right arm, will need arthroscopic surgery to remove a “loose body” in the elbow. He met with noted surgeon to the stars Dr. James Andrews in Alabama earlier today and will have the surgery within the week.
While averaging 17.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists and shooting 40 percent from the field and 25 percent from three-point range this season — a significant drop in production across the board — Johnson has said the elbow was bothered him for a while. “It just got unbearable,” Johnson told the Associated Press, and Hawks coach Larry Drew said his star couldn’t extend his arm.
Mo Evans started in Johnson’s place tonight for the Hawks, who are 12-7 and in third place in the East, but reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford could eventually take that spot.