Brooklyn Nets: Joe Johnson

4 thoughts on Nets' deadline decisions

February, 19, 2015
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And after all of that, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams are all still members of the Brooklyn Nets.

Kevin Garnett, however, is not.

Garnett agreed to waive his no-trade clause and will head back to Minnesota, where his Hall of Fame career began.

In return, the Nets acquired a player GM Billy King once drafted in Philadelphia, Thaddeus Young.

Here are a few thoughts from a crazy day:

1. It’s crazy to think that in June 2013, the Nets traded three unprotected first-round picks (2014, 2016, 2018) and the right to swap firsts in 2017 to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Garnett and Paul Pierce. As of Feb. 19, 2015, they have Young. Not a good look.

Still, Garnett, 38, appeared to be on the significant decline, and talks of a buyout had come into play, even though KG, by all indications, was intent to stick around. The Nets will miss his mentorship of their younger players -- specifically Mason Plumlee -- but they needed to get younger and more athletic, and the 26-year-old Young qualifies. He averaged 14.3 points and 5.1 rebounds on 45.1 percent shooting in 33.4 minutes per game for the Timberwolves.

The one Young stat that really stands out are his dunks over the past three seasons: 82, 57, 14. The hope is that was a product of being on a bad, rebuilding team, not a decline in his game.

Young is making $9.4 million this season. He can opt out of the final $10 million due to him in 2015-16 over the summer and become a free agent, if he wishes. The trade saved the Nets $10 million in salary and luxury taxes from the beginning of the year.


2. It appeared as though Lopez was headed to Oklahoma City in a package that included 24-year-old point guard Reggie Jackson. The Nets and Thunder had re-engaged in trade talks Wednesday night, and they picked up again Thursday. One possible scenario had the deal expanding to also include Young and Garnett. But the Thunder ultimately decided to go in another direction, sending Jackson to Detroit and acquiring Enes Kanter from Utah. Which is ironic, given that the Jazz picked Kanter with one of the first-round picks they acquired from the Nets in exchange for D-Will in February 2011.

It seems like oft-injured Lopez has been involved in more trade rumors than any player in league history, yet he remains with Brooklyn, as the franchise’s longest-tenured player (seven seasons and counting). Although, how much does loyalty even mean these days? Lopez is making $15.7 million this season and has a player option for $16.7 million next season. It’s unknown if he’ll opt out.


3. The Nets made it known in December that Williams, Lopez and Johnson could all be had via trade. They certainly tried.

Look at all these trade talks that never came to fruition: Williams and Sacramento; Lopez and OKC, Miami and Denver; Johnson and Charlotte and Detroit. There were also talks about Jarrett Jack and Detroit and Washington. Brooklyn’s maxed-out big three has played 102 games together because of injury, with a 58-44 record to show for it. But they are just 23-31 against .500 or better teams (at time of game played), per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Lopez has been through seven different coaches and three different foot surgeries. Williams, once given the keys to the franchise nearly four years ago, appears to be in a permanent reserve role. Johnson has been the most consistent of the trio, though he’s recently been plagued by injury and fatigue. Williams is owed $21 million next season and, if he doesn’t opt out, $22.3 million in 2016-17. Johnson is owed $24.9 million next season -- the final year of his deal. By not bringing Jackson in, at least the Nets continued to preserve the boatload of cap space they have for the summer of 2016.


4. The race for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference got a lot more interesting. Detroit bolstered its chances by adding by adding Jackson, while Miami improved immensely by bringing Goran Dragic into the fold. Just two games separate seventh-place Charlotte (22-30), the eighth-place Heat (22-30), ninth-place Brooklyn (21-31), 10th-place Boston (20-31), 11th-place Detroit (21-33) and 12th-place Indiana (21-33). Making the playoffs is important for the Nets since the Atlanta Hawks have the right to swap firsts with Brooklyn in 2015 as a result of the Johnson deal.

'Joe Jesus' misses again at the buzzer

January, 5, 2015
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NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins drew up a couple of plays for his team’s final possession of regulation Monday night, but he quickly abandoned them.

The Nets have arguably the most clutch player in the NBA.

It was Joe Jesus time.

With the score tied, Hollins told Joe Johnson to go out and make a play. So Johnson did. He got himself a great look at a jumper over Richard Jefferson out of an isolation set.

“Looked good, felt good,” Johnson said of the shot.

“Just came up a little short.”

Johnson’s miss sent the Nets into overtime, but they failed to keep pace with the Dallas Mavericks, falling 96-88 at Barclays Center.

In his previous two seasons, Johnson went 7-for-8 on shots in the final 10 seconds of games in which the Nets were tied or trailing by three or fewer points, including four game-winners at the buzzer. But Johnson is 0-for-4 in those situations this season, failing to come up with game-winners at the horn on three different occasions -- twice against Milwaukee on Nov. 19 and then Monday night.

Just don’t expect his confidence to wane as a result.

“I’m gonna keep the confidence and keep stepping up in those situations trying to make plays,” Johnson said.

Johnson has been a model of consistency during the team’s 16-18 start to the season. He’s averaging 16.6 points on 38.2 percent shooting from 3-point range. The past two nights, he has logged a combined 86 minutes.

Down 80-74, Johnson hit back-to-back 3s to tie the game and send the sellout crowd into a frenzy. Ultimately, the Nets dropped to 2-14 against .500-or-better opponents because their offense went cold following a 35-point first quarter in which Brook Lopez had 18 points. From the start of the second quarter to the 7:20 mark of the fourth, Brooklyn hit just 22.7 percent of its shots -- missing all 15 of its 3-pointers in that span. The Nets went just 3-for-25 from beyond the arc overall, which led to their undoing.

Nets off-day quick hits

December, 28, 2014
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A couple of quick thoughts on a Sunday:

Going into Saturday night’s game against Indiana, NBA.com’s lineup data suggested that Mason Plumlee and Brook Lopez should not play together, and Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack should not play together.

Advanced metrics obviously aren't the be-all and end-all, but once again, the data proved right.

Nets coach Lionel Hollins played Plumlee and Lopez together for six minutes and Williams and Jack together for 13 minutes in Brooklyn’s 110-85 loss to the Pacers. The Nets were outscored by nine points while the Plumlee-Lopez combo was on the floor, producing a net rating of negative-77.1. Meanwhile, they were outscored by 12 while the Williams-Jack combo was on the floor, producing a net rating of negative-41.6.

Brooklyn’s best five-man combinations against the Pacers were as follows:

Jarrett Jack-Sergey Karasev-Joe Johnson-Kevin Garnett-Mason Plumlee (10 minutes): positive-23.8 net rating, outscored Pacers by six.

Jarrett Jack-Sergey Karasev-Alan Anderson-Joe Johnson-Mason Plumlee (seven minutes): positive-22.2 net rating, outscored Pacers by four.

Those two units -- the newly formed starting five and the fourth-quarter small lineup -- were the lineups most utilized by Hollins.

It’s clear that these combinations need to continue playing together. Another thing: Neither lineup included Deron Williams or Brook Lopez. The Nets are eventually going to need both to play well, however, if they want to enhance their trade values and/or get better as a team.

Mason ordinary: Mason Plumlee had nine points and eight rebounds on 2-for-5 shooting. Take nothing away from Plumlee, who has been absolutely tremendous of late and is certainly one reason to be optimistic about the future. But it’s clear that the 24-year-old’s impact can be negated by quality defensive centers like Indy's Roy Hibbert. Remember: While Plumlee is blossoming, his offensive game is still limited to rim dives and alley-oops. He’s been working on his post game, jump hooks, running hooks and his jump shot. Still, he doesn't have too many weapons to choose from. That’s not to say he won’t eventually get there, but he’s still got a ways to go.

Mirza misfiring: In his past 12 games, Mirza Teletovic is shooting 37.1 percent overall, 29.4 percent from 3-point range and 66.7 percent from the free-throw stripe. That’s a fairly significant sample size. The European sharpshooter needs to get his confidence back, and quickly -- no need for slumps like these to linger. Of course, the only way to get yourself out of them is to keep shooting.

High on Karasev: Sergey Karasev’s last five games look like this: 30.4 minutes, 10.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 47.5 percent field goals, 37.5 percent 3-point field goals. That’s pretty darn good. And he’s only 21. Like Plumlee, Karasev has been playing within his limitations. He can shoot, but he’s also got a good feel for the game, making several smart decisions when it comes to passing and reading defenses.

Hate to look too far ahead but ...: Check out this 12-game stretch from Jan. 12 to Feb. 4: Houston, Memphis, at Washington, Washington, at Sacramento, at Clippers, at Utah, Portland, at Atlanta, Toronto, Clippers, at Toronto. Are there any gimmes there? Maybe the Jazz? You’ll find out a lot about this team then.

Joe Johnson set to return, will face Sixers

December, 12, 2014
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NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets swingman Joe Johnson will return to the lineup following a two-game absence due to the flu, the team announced prior to Friday night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Barclays Center.

Power forward Kevin Garnett, who has a sore left foot, will also play. Reserve shooter Mirza Teletovic (right hip pointer) remains out, as does center Brook Lopez (strained lower back). Nets GM Billy King said the team would have an update on Lopez Monday.

The Nets will start point guard Deron Williams, shooting guard Sergey Karasev, Johnson, Garnett and center Mason Plumlee against the Sixers.

Cutting payroll: With their trade of Andrei Kirilenko, Brooklyn’s payroll dropped to $91 million and their total with payroll and luxury taxes adds up to about $118 million. So in essence they saved about $12 million in payroll and luxury taxes by shedding Kirilenko’s $3.3 million wage off their books. Previously the Nets were at $94 million and $130 million.

Why trading Nets' big three would be tough

December, 12, 2014
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Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez form the highest-paid trio in the NBA, but are just 16-30 together against .500 or better opponents.

You can see why the Brooklyn Nets have made the three former All-Stars available via trade.

Here's a detailed look at the tough task facing GM Billy King.

Bloated salaries

Though the Nets are just 8-12 -- including 1-10 against .500 or better teams -- Williams, Johnson and Lopez will make a combined $58.7 million this season.

Williams ($19.8 million in 2014-15) is owed $21 million next season and $22.3 million in 2016-17, assuming he doesn't opt out of the final year of his deal. Lopez ($15.7 million) has a $16.7 million player option for 2016-17, which he is expected to exercise. And Johnson ($23.2 million) will make $24.9 million in 2015-16.

And even if the Nets can find a team willing to take on these massive contracts, they'd have to do so without sacrificing their cap space for the summer of 2016, when Kevin Durant and Joakim Noah are expected to headline a potentially strong free-agent class.

Injuries, age and diminished skills

Williams, 30, just underwent offseason surgery to clean out both of his ankles and has battled injuries ever since he became a Net in February 2011. He is moving better this season, but has yet to dunk.

While he has had a fairly productive season (17.1 points per game, 41 percent 3-point range), it isn't unreasonable to wonder whether Williams really makes his teammates better. He’s averaged just 6.4 assists per game despite ranking fifth in the NBA in time of possession (the amount of time a player holds the ball during a game). He is sometimes guilty of making head-scratching decisions in crucial times during games, and has struggled in the clutch, shooting 5-for-17 this season in the last five minutes of games in which the Nets are ahead or behind by five.

It seems like team chemistry is always an issue when Williams is involved, too. He has developed the reputation of a “coach killer,” and has never been touted for his leadership skills.

Lopez, 26, has missed 138 games and counting since 2011-12. He has had multiple foot surgeries, and recently came down with a strained lower back injury. He is clearly gifted offensively, but also disrupts the offensive flow with his ball-stopping ways. Lopez has recorded just 12 assists on 629 touches.

Frequently on the receiving end of criticism from hard-nosed coach Lionel Hollins, the easy-going Lopez has struggled to protect the rim (50.3 percent against) and rebound (6.2 per game).

Johnson, 33, has been quite durable but he’s getting up there in age and has said his body is starting to feel it.

Johnson was at his best during the 2013-14 playoffs, when he served as the focal point of the offense. An excellent spot-up shooter and competent defender, the swingman has had a hard time finding a rhythm with Williams and Lopez healthy. He’s been the most productive of the trio, but has always had to deal with the burden that comes with a max deal some believe he didn't deserve. Since calling out his teammates for being selfish, Johnson is averaging just 13.6 points per game while shooting 27 percent from 3-point territory.

Asked why his big three hasn't worked out, King replied, “If I knew, they’d be doing it, because I’d tell them to do what they’re not doing. I don’t know.”

The Nets are in no-man’s land

In the NBA, you either want to be really good or really bad. You don’t want to be stuck in the middle.

But because of questionable decision-making by management, including dealing away a bevy of future first-round picks and adding on several onerous contracts in an effort to win now, that’s exactly where the Nets are.

Rebuilding would be tough. Remember: Atlanta can swap firsts with Brooklyn in 2015 (as a part of the Johnson trade), and Boston owns Brooklyn’s unprotected firsts in 2016 and 2018 and can swap firsts with the Nets in 2017 (Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade).

And even though they've been bad so far this season, they're currently still in line for a playoff spot in the downtrodden Eastern Conference.

"Fortunately we're in the East. In the West we’d be thinking a little differently," King said. "My job is talk on the phones. Does that mean we’re having a fire sale? Absolutely not. My job is to work the phones, see what’s available, and if things make sense, we’ll make a trade."

He added: “Well, we haven’t played like we expected to play, but I don’t think it’s over. I think last year this time I think we were having the same conversation and then we turned it around. But I don’t think we wanna wait until that point (again). We have to start playing better as a group.”

But the trio is on the block. Let’s see what moves King has up his sleeve.

Joe Johnson plans to play on Friday

December, 11, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets swingman Joe Johnson plans to return to action Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers after missing the last two games with a severe case of the flu.

“I’m definitely going to play,” Johnson said Thursday. “Came in today -- I got here a little early -- so I can try and get a little workout in before the guys got in because I knew they probably wouldn’t do it as much on the court. I felt pretty good. Still a little low on energy, but for the most part, I’ll be all right.”

Johnson started feeling under the weather before Friday's game against Atlanta and his condition got much worse from there.

“I probably texted Timmy [trainer Tim Walsh] at about 5 o’clock Sunday morning,” Johnson said. “Five o’clock a.m. I couldn’t sleep. I was breathing out of my mouth because my nose was stopped up. I had cold chills. It was bad. I literally didn't get out of bed for two days. Yesterday was the first time I got up and starting walking around, moving around.”

Nets coach Lionel Hollins, meanwhile, wasn't as sure about the 33-year-old veteran playing against Philadelphia.

“I don't know. I can't even call it out. He's back ... I don't think he has his strength,” Hollins said.

Hollins said the Nets didn’t really practice much on Thursday, using their time to watch film and get up some shots. Power forward Kevin Garnett (sore left foot) and center Brook Lopez (lower back strain) did not practice, according to the team, but reserve Mirza Teletovic (right hip pointer) was able to return.

Nets' big three struggles against the best

December, 10, 2014
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CHICAGO -- Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson are 51-38 in the regular season when playing together.

Not bad.

But the NBA’s most expensive trio ($58.7 million) has struggled mightily against quality opponents.

Williams, Lopez and Johnson are just 16-30 in the regular season when playing against teams with .500 or better records, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

This season, Williams, Johnson and Lopez rank 64th in net efficiency rating among three-man lineups that have played at least 15 games and 350 minutes together (102 points per 100 possessions for vs. 101.5 points per 100 possessions against).

As far as any criticism of the trio is concerned -- they have played together in just 89 of 183 available games over the past three seasons -- Williams said: “I don’t worry about it. It is what it is. People are gonna write stuff. People are gonna love you and people are gonna hate you. If you get caught up in that, if you worry about it, that’s on you.”

Williams, who has been arguably the team’s most productive player this season, ranks 13th in the NBA with 6.5 assists per game, but 39th in assist rate and 28th in assist-to-turnover ratio. Lopez, who was beginning to hit a stride before straining his lower back (19.7 points, 10 rebounds averages in his past three games), has a career-low 17.48 player efficiency rating (PER) and just 12 assists all season. Johnson is averaging just 13.6 points while shooting 27 percent from 3-point range in his past 12 games.

With an 8-11 record and a 1-9 mark against .500 or better teams, can this group still compete?

“I mean, I don’t know how to answer that," Kevin Garnett said. "I’m just trying to keep the guys upbeat, positive and control what we can control and give maximum effort when you’re on the floor."

Nets try to avoid becoming 76ers' first win

November, 25, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- Coach Lionel Hollins says he doesn’t have to inform his team of the Philadelphia 76ers’ record.

Hollins believes the Nets are well aware of the situation they’re facing Wednesday night in Philly against the 0-14 Sixers.

“They know what it is,” Hollins said. “I don’t have to mention it. Hell, everybody’s got Twitter and people [are] on Facebook and the news.

“It’s not a big deal. Not having a win doesn’t mean that they can’t beat you. They just haven’t beaten anybody yet.”

The Nets (5-8) want to avoid becoming the first win of the season for lowly Philadelphia. If Brooklyn can extend the Sixers’ misery, Philadelphia would be one step closer to the Nets’ record for worst start in NBA history when the team opened the 2009-10 season at 0-18.

“All those records in the record books, nobody that’s playing now was on that New Jersey team,” Hollins said when asked about the Nets’ record.

When Hollins was told that Brook Lopez was on that record-setting Nets team, the first-year Brooklyn coach could only laugh at his honest oversight.

“Brook was? Oh!” Hollins said. “You know, you just go out and play and try to be as good as you can be and try to compete every night and not worry about what the other team’s record is.”

The Nets hit Philadelphia with plenty of their own concerns. They’ve have won just once in their last seven tries and a loss to the Sixers would certainly be the low point of a slow start.

The Nets are still adjusting to having to learn a new system and coach, some players have yet to find a rhythm and Lopez, who did not talk to reporters on Tuesday, has struggled returning from foot surgery while seeing his fourth-quarter minutes fluctuate.

Meanwhile, Hollins said he also has to adjust to his new team as he learns about his roster with each game.

“Oh, a lot,” Hollins said when asked how much he has had to adjust to his new team. “A lot. I mean, I can't play the way I would totally like to play because that's not the personality of this team. But also, after these first 13 games, I've learned a lot about the individuals.

“I've learned a lot about the team as a group. And so I've kind of changed even what I started out with, with this group, system-wise, because it seems like we need something a little different.”

Hollins would not elaborate on what he’s altered in his system. The Nets are still a work in progress, but they know what they have to do on Wednesday -- take the air and hope out of the Sixers right away.

“Yeah, anytime you play a team that’s on a losing streak, searching for a win, those are desperate teams,” point guard Deron Williams said. “They really have nothing to lose, so they’re a dangerous team.

"We have to impose our will early.”

Joe Johnson hopes the Nets know what kind of effort it will take to avoid becoming the Sixers’ first bright spot of their season.

“If they come out and lose tomorrow, it is nothing to them,” Johnson said. “They are going to play hard, we get that.”

“We just can’t take it for granted, can’t take those guys lightly,” Johnson added. “And it is going to take every man for us to get this win tomorrow.”

Staying home: Markel Brown (hip pointer) and Andrei Kirilenko (personal) did not make the trip to Philadelphia.

Nets reeling after brutal 1-6 stretch

November, 23, 2014
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Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins wants to see rookie Bojan Bogdanovic attack more.

Bogdanovic did not make a shot on the team’s two-game road trip through Oklahoma City and San Antonio, going 0-for-12 from the field -- including 0-for-6 from 3-point range.

“He’s in a slump,” Hollins told reporters in San Antonio following Saturday night’s 99-87 loss to the Spurs. “He isn’t making shots, and he doesn’t get to the free throw line, he doesn’t get to the basket, so he’s counting on long shots. And when you miss them, you go 0-fer.”

Bogdanovic got to the charity stripe twice against San Antonio. He hasn’t gotten there at all in six of his first 13 games in the NBA, never attempting more than four free throws in a game.

“All I know is you gotta get to the free throw line, you gotta be tougher and you can’t just stand out there and count on making shots all the time,” Hollins said. “Because sometimes you do, and sometimes you don’t. The guys who still score are the ones that drive and attack the basket and get to the free throw line.”

Bogdanovic ranks third in rookie scoring (9.9 points per game), behind only the first two picks in the 2014 NBA draft, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.

He has gone 21-for-28 on shots from less than 5 feet of the basket, according to NBA.com. He’s also been blocked on six attempts from less than 5 feet. On all other shots, Bogdanovic is 26-for-84 (31 percent).

More Brook points: Saturday night, using statistical evidence, we suggested that the Nets might want to bring Brook Lopez off the bench. A couple of points we missed:

• Only two five-man combinations (minimum 10 games played/100 minutes played) in the entire NBA have been worse than Brooklyn’s starting five:

Orlando Magic: Evan Fournier-Channing Frye-Tobias Harris-Elfrid Payton-Nikola Vucevic (minus-15 net rating).

Los Angeles Lakers: Carlos Boozer-Kobe Bryant-Jordan Hill-Wesley Johnson-Jeremy Lin (minus-22.4 net rating).

The Nets’ starters haven’t been that bad, but they’ve still been unproductive compared to the rest of the league.

• Lopez has just seven assists on 425 touches, according to NBA.com. The Nets would be able to dump the ball into him in the post with the second unit and let him operate against reserve bigs when he’s fresh.

• At the very least, Lopez may want to think about moving in his game. He’s 5-for-17 on shots from 16 to 24 feet.

Average Joe: The YES Network showed a nice graphic after the game which showed Joe Johnson’s splits.

First six games: 19.8 PPG/47.9 FG/13-for-28 3-PT

Last seven games: 13.9 PPG/40.7 FG/6-for-13 3-PT

Asked about Johnson’s 5-for-16 shooting night, Hollins pointed out that the 33-year-old veteran had just logged 52 minutes Wednesday, and it may take him some time to get back.

“It’s part of the game. It comes with what we do,” Johnson said. “I would never use that as an excuse. I just didn’t make shots.”

Johnson attempted only five shots against Oklahoma City. It was odd considering he is a good scorer who likes to get up shots and makes them with solid efficiency.

“It’s nothing that I’m worried about,” Johnson said. “I’m just being patient, just letting the game come to me. If I can make a play for the next guy that’s what I try to do -- especially when I’m in pick-and-rolls. If I get a chance to shoot and score, I will, but if not, I just keep playing.”

Sked unkind: The Nets just wrapped up a 1-6 stretch in which they played seven games in 11 days. They’ll only play once in the next seven days -- at Philadelphia on Wednesday night. This will give them some much-needed rest and practice time as they attempt to come together and figure things out.

The Nets (5-8) still haven’t beaten anyone, going 0-6 against teams with winning records. They face Chicago (Nov. 30), San Antonio (Dec. 3) and Atlanta (Dec. 5) coming up.

If you buy into Brooklyn’s annual “new coach, new system, new players, new identity, it takes time and we don’t figure it out until the new year, so relax” tradition, the Nets have 18 games remaining until Jan. 2, 2015, when they face Orlando. So if they tread water until then, they’ll be OK, right?

Can this really work again?

Early drama overshadowing Nets' 4-2 start

November, 12, 2014
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What the heck is going on in Brooklyn?

The Nets are 4-2 and second in offensive efficiency. Deron Williams is finally healthy and was just named Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

Yet you wouldn't know it with some early drama going on. Maybe it's not as much drama as the past season's NBA version of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" -- not by a mile -- but it's enough that it could threaten the harmony of coach Lionel Hollins' first season in Brooklyn.

[+] EnlargeJohnson
Cem Ozdel/Getty ImagesNets guard Joe Johnson is displeased with what he perceives as stagnation on offense.
At Tuesday's practice, the usually soft-spoken Joe Johnson surprisingly unloaded on his teammates and said they were playing "very selfish" basketball," while Hollins wanted to make it abundantly clear his relationship with Brook Lopez is great.

This is certainly not what the Nets want, not with an extremely difficult, three-game West Coast swing of Phoenix (Wednesday), Golden State (Thursday) and Portland (Saturday) in front of them.

They haven't even faced a playoff team yet -- or played a back-to-back, for that matter -- but already it's beginning to feel a little bit like they're a team in turmoil.

It all started Sunday, after Brooklyn's 104-96 victory over Orlando, when Johnson voiced his displeasure with what he felt was a lot of stagnation on offense. He then took to Twitter, tweeting "I'm off this s---."

"Just some frustration, obviously," Johnson said. "I am not hiding anything. I just thought we were 4-2, six games into the season, I know it's early, we haven't played anybody.

"I just didn't think that, as individuals [and] as players, we all have each other's backs out there. I felt I didn't believe it. I go back, and I watch the tape just to try to get a different perspective. My feelings haven't changed."

Johnson shot just 1-for-6 in the second half of that game. He played almost 10 minutes straight in the third quarter before finally attempting his first field goal. His body language reeked of frustration. He believes the Nets aren't as good as their record suggests and their losses to Boston and Minnesota are unacceptable.

Johnson leads the Nets in shots per game (16.0) and usage rate (25.1), but he's clearly not happy. Johnson was the focal point of Brooklyn's offense last season, after Lopez went down to a season-ending injury, but now that Williams and Lopez are healthy, that's no longer the case.

Williams is playing at an All-Star level but ranks fourth in the league in time of possession (total amount of time a player has the ball), according to NBA.com. Lopez, never known as a passer, despite being a force in the low-post, has just one assist so far.

For as many motion plays as the Nets run, there are other times when Johnson is isolating, Williams is dribbling and running a pick-and-roll with one of the bigs, or Lopez is backing a defender down and everyone else is just standing there, watching.

Throw in the fact that Mirza Teletovic and Alan Anderson are keen on shooting -- as is Bojan Bogdanovic -- and you can at least begin to understand where Johnson is coming from.

When you have three max players who can dominate the ball at times, it can be a difficult and delicate balancing act, perhaps something Hollins will want to address with the team going forward. It's tough when you have so many mouths to feed and only so much food with which to feed them.

As for the Hollins-Lopez dynamic, Hollins sat his center for the entire fourth quarter Sunday, after the 7-footer was outplayed by Nikola Vucevic. The Nets went small and were able neutralize Vucevic and win the game as a result.

Hollins has gotten on Lopez throughout training camp, the preseason and the regular season because he wants to make the 26-year-old center a better player. Hollins wants Lopez to be tougher, to be more aggressive, to be a better defender and rebounder. Lopez has had a label of being soft, and
Hollins wants him to shed that.

But their personalities are different -- Hollins old-school, no-nonsense; Lopez quiet, laid-back -- and their relationship will be something to keep an eye on this season.

"Too much is made of it that I sat Brook, that I'm upset because Brook didn't guard," Hollins said. "It wasn't that he didn't guard ... the guy made a lot of jump shots, and Brook couldn't get out there and match up with him. And when you have those situations, you got to do something as a coach to give yourself a chance to win. I thought going small gave us the best chance."

The Nets desperately need a win or two out West, but it's going to be tough. The Suns have quick guards who like to get out and run, while the Warriors and Trail Blazers have been dominant at home in recent years. Brooklyn then returns to Barclays Center and gets the Miami Heat and Jason Kidd's Milwaukee Bucks.

The Nets don't want any bad feelings to linger or losses to mount. Otherwise, they could find themselves in an early hole for the second straight season.

Nets 110, Knicks 99: Round 1 to Brooklyn

November, 7, 2014
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NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets kicked off the 2014-15 edition of the East River rivalry with an easy 110-99 win over the New York Knicks Friday night at Barclays Center. The Nets are 3-2. They led by as many as 22.

Player of the game: Deron Williams (29 points, 6 assists), Brook Lopez (20 points, 9 rebounds) and Joe Johnson (18 points) share this honor. Williams for running the team like an All-Star despite the reappearance of tape on his right wrist; Lopez for rebounding from a poor showing Wednesday (10 points, 5 rebounds); and Johnson for his defense on Carmelo Anthony (5-for-20 shooting, 19 points). It was the first time Williams and Lopez have scored 20 or more points in the same game since Dec. 10, 2013.

Stats of the game: The Nets went 14-for-24 from 3-point range and held the Knicks to just 41.1 percent shooting.

History made: Kevin Garnett moved into ninth place all-time in rebounding, passing Walt Bellamy.

Play of the game: This.

Who’s in the house? Mike D from the Beastie Boys (he did the pregame player intros for the Nets #nosleeptilbrooklyn), Ben Stiller and Spike Lee.

Up next: The Nets wrap up their four-game homestand against the Orlando Magic Sunday afternoon.

Joe Johnson on 'Joe Jesus,' Nets' future

October, 29, 2014
10/29/14
10:00
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Joe JohnsonAP Photo/Jonathan BachmanDespite a bumpy summer in Brooklyn, Joe Johnson says he has a lot to look forward to in 2014-15.
Brooklyn Nets swingman Joe Johnson is 33 now, and he frequently jokes about just how old he feels. Almost 1,000 NBA games and almost 36,000 NBA minutes will do that.

But his spirits remain high. He says he lost "at least" 10 pounds over the summer, in large part because of his infatuation with Hot Yoga. And he's coming off his best postseason yet, averaging 21.2 points per game and tying his career-high in playoff games played. His hopes remain high for the Nets in 2014-15, too, despite mild expectations from prognosticators.

Before his 14th season begins, Johnson sat down with ESPN.com to discuss his personality, his thoughts on Kevin Garnett calling him "Joe Jesus" and why he likes others believing that the Nets are "done."

Q: Many All-Stars in the NBA have egos. Despite all the points you’ve scored [more than 17,000], All-Star teams you've made [seven] and money you've earned [more than $150 million], you don’t seem to. How did you develop your personality?

A: Just growing up, being an only child, I've been quiet pretty much my whole life. I’m not expressive, but I’ll have my moments. I fell in love with the game of basketball and was very passionate about it. But my thing in this game is I never get too high and I never get too low. I like to stay on an even-keel, and that’s to keep my opponents off-balance.

I think one of the key things my mom [Diane, a single parent] taught me growing up was, "Never let anybody know what you’re thinking." And that’s how I play. You don’t know if I've got 30-40 points or I've got six points. I’m gonna keep the same demeanor pretty much and I’m gonna just enjoy the game. I mean, I might not always like the results, but if that’s what I had that night, that’s what I had. I've got to move on and get on to the next one.

Q: OK, let’s go back to last season. You’re having one of the best games of your career in Game 5 against Miami [34 points on 15-for-23 shooting], and you lose the ball on the last possession and you guys get eliminated from the playoffs. How tough was that?

A: When I first caught the ball, I was kinda in the corner, so I knew I was in a tough spot. I think [LeBron James] crowded me, and I think I tried to put it on the floor a few times, but I bobbled it a little bit. I know Ray Allen was in there helping. All I wanted to was just get a look at the basket. That’s all I wanted. I thought we had a chance to pull that one out, and that was a game that got away from us and it shouldn't come down to that, to be honest with you.

Q: You came to Brooklyn in 2012 with a lot of expectations. How would you evaluate your tenure as a Net so far?

A: I think each and every year we've progressed, especially in the postseason. Obviously, with the second year, last year, Brook [Lopez] being hurt a lot, Deron [Williams] being hurt a lot, the lineup kinda fluctuated a bit and it was hard to get any type of chemistry, plus adding KG and Paul [Pierce], I thought guys were a bit too unselfish at times and it kinda hurt us a little bit.

But I don’t know, man, my tenure here has been decent. It hasn’t obviously been what I would've liked throughout the regular season -- especially the first year and the first postseason being hurt -- but this year should hopefully be different.

Q: Why is this year going to be different?

A: I just think the focus is a little different. Obviously, we’re trying to keep Brook healthy and everybody’s mindset is different. We don’t have a lot of attention on us, which I think honestly it’s great. The first year, it was all about the Nets going to Brooklyn, so we had so much attention on us. Then, the second year, we got Paul and KG, so now we’re this championship team and now it’s like, "All right, the Nets are done. It’s over with." We’ll be quiet and just play basketball the right way, have fun and I think we’re gonna have great results.

Q: Recently at practice, you made a shot and KG yelled, “Good shot, Jesus!” Looks like the nickname [coined for his clutch scoring] has stuck, huh?

A: I told KG: His tongue is power. When he says something, people listen, and they kinda have a tendency to run with it.

Q: Do you like being called “Joe Jesus?”

It is what it is. I don’t look forward to anybody calling me that. It’s just at this moment or point in time it kinda is what it is. It’s just KG and he does it from time-to-time. It’s not an everyday thing.

Q: Many players shrink up in big moments. You’ve hit four game-winning buzzer-beaters as a Net. Why do you relish those moments?

A: Man, it goes back to my days in Phoenix, even playing with three All-Stars in Amar'e [Stoudemire], Steve [Nash] and Shawn [Marion]. I was still the guy who would take the big shot and make the big shot, and that’s kinda how it was. And as I went to different teams, that wasn’t necessarily my M.O. coming into those teams. It kinda developed that way, it just kinda happened that way. Even going back to when I first got here [and my first buzzer-beater against Detroit in 2012].

We had momentum going into that game. I think I made the shots to get us into overtime and Coach Avery [Johnson] was just like, "All right, we’re just gonna keep going to you," and he just kept coming to me. It came down to the last play of the game, and he came to me. And from that point on, it was just if it comes down to the end of the game, we’re gonna see if he can keep doing that.

Q: What’s the key to being cool, calm and collected in those moments?

A: It’s just focus, man. It’s just focus and determination, knowing that this could be the last play of the game. And you wanna do anything and everything that you can to get to that sweet spot or get a great look at the basket, and that’s all I try to do.”

Q: You’re 33 and entering your 14th season in the NBA. Have you started thinking about how much time you have left?

A: I’ve been in pretty good health. So I just hope, first and foremost, that continues, and I think everything else will take care of itself.

Q: You've accomplished a lot in your career. What’s left?

A: Obviously, a championship. And I think we have the ingredients here to do just that. We have to all be on the same page, man. And we all have to want it.

Q: How much longer would you like to play?

A: I haven’t put a limit on it, how long I wanna go. But when I’m done here, after my contract is up, I’ll be 35. We’ll see. I don't really know. Honestly, I don’t even like imagining it. But it’s coming. It’s approaching, and I understand that and I’m fine with it. I’m gonna give them everything I got.

Q: Have you ever thought about your candidacy for the Hall of Fame? ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton recently noted that only one player who has scored 20,000 or more points [Tom Chambers] has ever been left out of the Hall so far.

A: We’ll see, man. Hopefully, but I got a lot to go. Me being a Hall of Famer would be great, that would be a huge accomplishment, but obviously I wanna be labeled as a great teammate, a winner, and that’s what I’m trying to approach.

I know I’ve been a great teammate. I know I’ve done any and everything in my power to help the team -- whichever team -- whatever they’ve asked me to do. I just try to do my job, man. I don’t always come up with the best results, but I give them everything I’ve got.

Q: Obviously things can change, but would you prefer to end your career in Brooklyn if possible?

A: As long as things are going in the right direction. At this point in my career, I would hate to take a step back. We’ll see. I don’t know what the future holds to be honest with you. I just want to make this year the best year that we have in front of us, and next year we’ll think about that.

Johnson's long-range shooting buoys Nets

May, 11, 2014
5/11/14
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- On Saturday night, it didn’t matter if it was from the corner, the wing or the top of the key.

Joe Johnson was spotting up beyond the arc, receiving on-time, on-target passes from Deron Williams, and draining 3-pointers all over the court.

Johnson went 5-for-7 from downtown in Game 3, leading the Brooklyn Nets to a 104-90 victory over the Miami Heat. The Nets hit a franchise playoff-record 15 3s overall on 25 attempts.

“I thought the reason was because we were able to get stops and get out in transition, and it worked great for us,” Johnson said Sunday.

Quietly, as always, Johnson remains Brooklyn’s best postseason performer.

“You know, Joe’s been great for us all year,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “He’s one of the leaders on this team. You know, he probably doesn’t say a lot, on the court or to you guys, but in that locker room, those guys look to Joe as a leader, and he’s playing extremely well for us.”

Against the Heat, Johnson is averaging 16.3 points per game on 57.1 percent shooting -- including 47.1 percent from 3. Overall in the playoffs, he’s averaging 20.2 points on 53.4 percent shooting -- including 42.3 percent from downtown.

“He’s an unbelievable player,” LeBron James said of Johnson. “He plays at his own tempo. You can’t speed him up. And he’s a big body, too, so he can get physical with us as well.”

Asked why he’s been able to have so much success, Johnson said, “It’s just about staying focused on both ends of the court. Just picking my spots offensively and defensively, and helping my teammates.”

Johnson enjoys going up against James, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the two-time defending champions.

“This is what we asked for, so now that we’re here, we have to make the most of it,” Johnson said. “This is basketball at the highest level.”
The Brooklyn Nets may have been outclassed in their 107-86 blowout loss to the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, but their backcourt was not.

Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each scored 17 points, while combining to shoot 14-for-21 from the field -- including 6-for-11 from 3-point range.

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Williams hit a pair of buzzer-beating 3-pointers at the end of the second and third quarters to keep the Nets afloat. He was moving well after recently receiving a pair of injections in his left ankle, though he struggled defensively against Mario Chalmers.

Johnson, the team’s best player in Round 1, started to get into a rhythm in the second quarter, when he scored eight points. Johnson also hit back-to-back shots late in the third, but it was too little, too late.

Still, it’s something for the Nets to build on. Brooklyn shot 47.1 percent from the field and went 10-for-24 from 3-point range, but Nets coach Jason Kidd felt like his team’s offense was too stagnant.

While the Heat were driving and making things happen in the paint, the Nets were settling and taking too many shots from the perimeter.

Much had been made of Brooklyn’s regular-season sweep of Miami, but the Heat were far-and-away the better team in Game 1.

The two-time defending champions mean business, and they came out and showed that the playoffs are a whole different animal.

Brooklyn’s lackluster performance has to concern its fanbase. Still, if the Nets could somehow leave Miami with a split, it would allow them to get over their Game 1 debacle.

Question: How concerned are you about the Nets right now? Let us know in the comments section below.

In case you missed it: Perhaps you may want to delete this game from your TiVo. LeBron James played like the best player on the planet, and the Heat dominated from start to finish. Plus, more on the blog.

Stat to know: According to ESPN Stats & Information, James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined to hold the Nets to 33.3 percent shooting when guarding their man. The Nets shot 48.8 percent when guarded by any other members of the Heat.

Up next: The Nets will hold practice on Wednesday. They need to make A LOT of adjustments.


MIAMI -- LeBron James backed down Shaun Livingston with ease, missed a short shot before hauling in his own miss and scoring a layup with no resistance.

Less than a minute later in the third, James shifted into his locomotive gear in transition, buried his shoulder into Andray Blatche and scored easily on a drive that was part of a 15-2 Miami run.

James immediately began jawing and pounding his chest.

[+] EnlargeLeBron James
Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesLeBron James drove home a stern message to the Nets in Game 1: This is big boy basketball now, fellas.
The Nets? They looked like they wanted no part of this fight with the defending champs.

In Tuesday’s Game 1, the best player on the planet reminded the Nets they are no longer in Toronto. And this certainly isn’t the regular season anymore, either.

Joe Johnson may like the way the Nets match up with the Heat. But in Game 1, the Nets were completely outmatched and outclassed by the champs in a 107-86 rout at American Airlines Arena.

Brooklyn didn’t look anything like the only team to ever complete a four-game, regular-season sweep of James. Perhaps that’s because the Heat didn’t look anything like the team the Nets beat in the regular season.

The Nets were assembled with the dual goal of beating the Heat and winning a title. They wanted Miami in the playoffs. And in the series opener, the $200 million team looked softer than ice cream melting in the South Beach sun.

Jason Kidd watched as his team allowed the Heat to score 52 points in the paint and shoot 56.8 percent. In other words, the Nets offered zero resistance inside the paint.

“Our defensive game plan wasn’t executed at all,” said Deron Williams, whose 17 points and 7-of-10 shooting was wasted by poor defense. “We made a lot of defensive mistakes. We allowed them to roam free. I know I got beat on a lot of backdoor cuts.

“It was just kind of the theme of the night: Just layups, layups, layups.”

Seeing the Heat win Game 1 wasn’t surprising. But here's the alarming part: A Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett-led team allowed James and the Heat to do whatever they wanted.

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Pierce said before Game 1 that there was a “dislike” between him and James from all their playoff battles in the past, since the two are chasing the same thing -- a title.

It would have been nice to see a hint of that "dislike" on display inside the paint. Charles Oakley would have been disgusted with the fact there wasn’t a single hard foul delivered on James or Dwyane Wade.

This is the playoffs, and yet James barely broke a sweat, scoring just 22 points and going to the line only two times. Wade had 14 points and didn’t even make a trip to the line.

On the other side, Pierce scored eight points and didn’t play in the fourth, with the game mostly out of reach. Garnett played a minute in the final quarter but finished the game scoreless -- the first time he failed to score a point in 139 playoff games.

The Nets looked every bit like a team that needed a series-winning block to survive the inexperienced Raptors, while the Heat looked like a two-time defending champion coming off an eight-day rest between series.

And the Nets didn’t just run into a rested two-time champion. They ran into a motivated one. How many times did the Heat hear about how the Nets had their number in the regular season, Pierce and Garnett play James harder than anybody else in the postseason, and the Nets present all sorts of matchup problems? Probably about as many times as they scored in the paint in Game 1.

“You got to think about it,” Garnett said. “If you are a competitor, and you keep hearing it over and over, and you got time to rest and sit back and watch the team and continue to hear that, you got to think competitive juices are going to [take over].”

[+] EnlargeNets
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyThe Nets looked lifeless in Tuesday's Game 1 loss.
“I just thought with that being kind of gasoline on the fire, they came out running at home like they were supposed to,” he added.

Now the Nets must respond with some fight or this series will be over a lot quicker than anybody thought. Kidd has to make the necessary adjustments after Erik Spoelstra had his team coming out in attack mode. Garnett and Pierce have to inject some toughness into this team.

“It was a three-point game at the half, fellas,” said Pierce, who like many of the Nets remained confident after the blowout loss. “We are not overreacting. We feel like we still can get a game in this building.”

LeBron bullied the Nets in Game 1. The Nets offered no resistance. Now they must retaliate in Game 2.

Time to find out what Brooklyn is made of.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Brook Lopez
PTS AST STL MIN
15.4 0.6 0.5 26.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsM. Plumlee 6.8
AssistsD. Williams 6.2
StealsT. Young 1.1
BlocksB. Lopez 1.6