Hawks’ Joe Johnson out of All-Star Game, replaced by Rajon Rondo

Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson will not be able to compete in either the 3-point contest or the All-Star game this weekend in Orlando due to left knee tendinitis. The team says an MRI confirmed the initial diagnosis. Johnson will sit out the Hawks’ next two games: at New York on Wednesday night and a Thursday night contest at home against Orlando.

According to the team, Johnson will be evaluated prior to the Hawks’ first game back from the five-day break, Feb. 29th vs. the Warriors. Willie Green will start as long as he is out.

“It is just tendinitis,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “From that standpoint, it’s just going to be on feel, how he feels with treatment and therapy. … For us, it’s important that he gets well to where it settles down from a pain standpoint.”

Johnson’s knee has been bothering him of late and he left Monday’s game against the Bulls in the third quarter before returning to Atlanta for the test. Drew said the time off should help ease the condition.

“Particularly with tendinitis,” Drew said. “It’s just one of those things where you have to allow the knee to rest to where it is not getting the constant pounding.”

Johnson leads the Hawks in scoring at 17.6 points a game and was named to the All-Star team for the sixth year in a row. His absence leaves the Hawks without an All-Star participant. Some believed that NBA commissioner David Stern should have replaced Johnson with another Hawk, Josh Smith. But Smith is a forward not a guard. Thus Stern chose Celtics point guard . It’s not yet clear who will replace Johnson in the 3-point contest.

Rondo got snubbed as an All-Star the first time around — he missed eight games due to injury and that seemed to cost him with the coaches. Plus he is currently serving a two-game suspension that ends after tonight’s game in Oklahoma City. But he is having his best season ever, taking on a larger role with the Celtics. Rondo is currently second in the NBA with 9.5 assists per game and is second on the team with 14.8 points per game. Rondo will join Celtics forward Paul Pierce as the team’s only representatives on the Eastern squad.

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