The Brooklyn Nets seem like one of the biggest sellers ahead of the NBA trade deadline, though most wouldn’t expect veteran guard Joe Jonson to be one of the names on the move.
Johnson is certainly a piece the Nets might like to move were it not for a contract that pays the Arkansas product Kobe Bryant money. According to BasketballInsiders.com’s Moke Hamilton, even Johnson wouldn’t mind a move given the state of the franchise:
That huge salary makes Johnson difficult to trade, but as seen in years past, him accepting a buyout after the passing of the trade deadline seems a very likely outcome. One source close to Johnson recently told Basketball Insiders that the 34-year-old marksman is “as miserable as he has ever been” and would welcome a change of scenery.
Even Johnson, who has been relatively supportive of the efforts in Brooklyn, seems tired of the mess. The Nets sit 14th in the Eastern Conference at 14-40 and have won just three games over their last 10 outings. The franchise is in an obvious position to sell, with Johnson appearing to suddenly ponder if the grass could be greener on a different side.
And why not? The Nets still don’t have a general manager in place. Anyone else from Thaddeus Young to Brook Lopez might find their way to the trade block before the deadline. The team’s approach to the offseason remains an unknown while the front office takes its time finding the ideal people to slot into the places that make those decisions.
Not that Johnson is free of blame. He’s been inconsistent all year, with his last two games the perfect example. Monday he hits the game-winning shot to upend the Denver Nuggets, Wednesday he’s going scoreless over 23 minutes in a blowout loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Still, Johnson has appeal to other teams. He’s 34 years old, sure, but manages to average 11.5 points and 4.1 points on 33.9 minutes. While solid numbers given the situation around him, one of the concerns alongside the price tag is his 40 percent clip from the field, his lowest mark since 2002.
As Hamilton notes, a deal seems unlikely. If other teams want to poach the rebuilding Nets, they will likely look to other pieces, if more than anything due to the contract. Johnson wouldn’t have trouble finding suitors given his potential as a rotational player for a contender. At this stage of his career that might be his best possible role.
Maybe Johnson has realized it, alongside the understanding such a role won’t exist in Brooklyn. While it doesn’t sound like he’s campaigning for a trade, pondering the idea and having that idea slip out into the public seems like the first step.
While it might be best to advise onlookers not to expect much when it comes to a potential Johnson trade, as they say, crazier things have happened.