Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics have to love the idea of the Brooklyn Nets buying out Joe Johnson.
No, the Nets, 14th in the Eastern Conference at 15-42, won’t harm the Celtics in the standings either way. Boston will remain in the thick of things where it currently sits third in the conference. But there are present and long-reaching implications to the Nets buying out Johnson, which sounds like it will happen soon.
ESPN’s Marc Stein revealed the Nets and Johnson have entered talks:
Joe Johnson and the Brooklyn Nets have opened buyout negotiations, ESPN has learned
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 25, 2016
How does this help the Celtics in the present? Stein listed them as one of the playoff contenders who would have an interest in signing Johnson:
Sources tell ESPN several playoff teams (Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Houston, Miami, OKC and Toronto) are already in pursuit of Joe Johnson — Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 25, 2016
Not a bad deal. Johnson might be 34 years old, but he still managed to post 11.8 points and 4.1 assists per night in a miserable situation. The line of contenders who wouldn’t mind bringing him on board is wrapped around the building for good reason. Boston is an especially interesting situation because Johnson could help take minutes away from Avery Bradley at shooting guard or even Jae Crowder at small forward while pairing with point guard Isaiah Thomas.
Perhaps more notable, though, is the long-term implications. It’s why ESPN’s Chris Forsberg was so quick to point out that this is great news for Boston:
Buyout could be a double victory for Celtics: https://t.co/xua8OUhSdw
— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) February 25, 2016
For those who forgot, the Celtics sit on a stockpile of draft picks, including one belonging to the Nets, which at this point looks like it could wind up being a top-five pick at a minimum. Now the 15-win team, only bested by the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers in terms of miserable records, is talking about buying out arguably its best player and tanking the rest of the season.
Brooklyn is doing this in the hopes of saving some cash and doing right by a respected veteran who hasn’t complained once about the shoddy rebuild job. But it’s the Celtics watching with hungry eyes. Not only would the team look like an attractive destination to Johnson, his departure means the Celtics can feel even more confident about what is sure to be a high pick in a draft class loaded with talent.
The headlines right now go to the Nets for getting to work on a buyout—just don’t sleep on the Celtics to emerge as the biggest winners from the ordeal.