NEW YORK (AP) Joe Johnson is in the starting lineup Sunday night in his debut for the Miami Heat against the Knicks.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said the Heat brought in Johnson to be a significant piece and then backed up his words by listing the veteran among his starters, a day after Johnson signed with the team.
''We have the ultimate respect for him. We've played twice against him as competitors in the playoffs and that's probably where you gain the most respect and knowledge of a player,'' Spoelstra said. ''So we always hoped we'd have an opportunity to get him and now it's finally happened, and let's go.''
Johnson and the Heat then got going quickly, as he made a 3-pointer on his first shot as they raced to a quick double-digit lead.
Johnson joined the Heat on Saturday after clearing waivers. He had negotiated a buyout on his contract with the Brooklyn Nets, agreeing to give up $3 million in salary to secure his release and join a contender.
He chose them over Cleveland and other teams in part because of his previous relationships with fellow veterans such as Dwyane Wade and Amare Stoudemire.
Both Johnson and the Heat believed the 34-year-old former All-Star would make a quick transition with his new team.
''Hopefully sooner than later,'' he said. ''We really don't have much time, so I am just trying to come in and mesh in with these guys and get things going right away.''