The approach of the NBA trade deadline means it’s time for Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets to step back into the spotlight.
Now 34 years old and boasting one of the league’s biggest contracts, Johnson seems destined to remain in trade chatter until his career ends. This year the rumblings are especially intriguing, though, because the Nets just cleaned shop in the front office and at head coach, meaning many might consider this the year the organization finally blows things up.
Or maybe not. According to NetsDaily.com, the Nets will listen but might not be all that interested in moving the veteran:
And would the Nets be interested? Word is that while Frank Zanin, Billy King’s assistant, has “the phone” and will take calls, ownership is unlikely to be interested. The big reason is the return. The Nets would have to take on multiple deals, at least one or more would extend into next season and thus cut into the Nets salary cap space. As anyone who listened to Mikhail Prokhorov this week understands, that $40 to $45 million in cap space is essential if there is to be a “small reset.”
Johnson’s overall numbers are down this year. He’s posting a 11.7/3.7/4.0 slash line on an average of 34.5 minutes. But he’s posted alarming consistency since the beginning of January, especially from a scoring standpoint, having scored 13 or more points in nine of the team’s 10 games this month already. So while the fact his contract pays him north of $24 million, it’s not hard to see why a contender might have a sudden interest in the veteran.
It all comes down to what a potential trade partner might want. Inhaling Johnson’s contract seems almost impossible without throwing a ton of cap space at the Nets, who as the blurb above notes, don’t have a ton of interest in taking on future contracts. In a perfect world, the Nets could dump Johnson for future assets while clearing some cap space, but that sort of deal doesn’t figure to go down unless a contender suffers an unexpected injury and feels its title chances look bleak without reinforcements.
Then again, new faces in the front office could surprise the globe. Maybe the Nets would like adding a younger guy on a long-term deal as opposed to what will be an unpredictable batch of free agency. Cap space to pursue big names is nice, but it’s a chance at them, not a sure thing. Grabbing a young guy on a solid contract who can act as a building block for a “small reset” would make sense, should the opportunity present itself.
Alas, the Nets have plenty to figure out in the front office before taking a deep dive into potential trades. They’re 11-31 on the court and 14th in the Eastern Conference, making trades seem like an obvious pursuit. Whether that includes Johnson, who always finds himself in these sort of situations, won’t be easy to predict. Keep a close eye on how the Nets approach a “reset” and which teams float around the idea of making a deal with them.