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Barring late snag, veteran swingman Joe Johnson is headed to Miami

There's a caveat because this is complicated.

But multiple NBA sources confirmed to the Miami Herald today that Joe Johnson has decided he wants to play for the Heat -- and two even said that the deal is done, pending Johnson clearing waivers this weekend, as expected.

Johnson, who is known as extremely loyal and was initially reluctant to accept a buyout from the Nets, apparently narrowed his long list of choices to Miami, Oklahoma City and Atlanta, based on the chance to play a prominent role. There was an extra advantage in Miami; he's friendly with several players, notably Dwyane Wade, who told me more than a week ago that he would be "blowing up" Johnson's phone if the 34-year-old swingman took a buyout. 

Johnson, a seven-time All-Star, struggled for the first two months of the season, but played well in January, averaging 13.5 points in 33.9 minutes while shooting 47 percent from three-point range. He's shooting 44.1 percent from deep in February. While he earned the name "ISO Joe" during his time in Atlanta, he's a good spot-up shooter and excellent post-up player.

If this finalizes, he figures to start at the small forward spot, next to Wade, especially if Chris Bosh doesn't return from a blood clot. That would leave Luol Deng at the power forward position. 

The question now -- and the cause of the caveat -- is when Johnson would arrive. The Heat has made it clear publicly and privately that it doesn't want to pay luxury tax this season, so that it can avoid the penalties that come with being a repeater tax team. But, even if just offering Johnson the pro-rated minimum (he's made $174 million prior to his $24 million salary this season), the Heat would have to wait until roughly March 10 to officially add him without exceeding the tax line. 

More as it comes...

 

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