Rapid Reaction: Nets to acquire Johnson
July, 2, 2012
By Mike Mazzeo | ESPNNewYork.com
WHAT IT MEANS: The Nets have agreed to terms on a trade for All-Star guard Joe Johnson of the Hawks, sources told ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard and Marc Stein.
The Nets would send Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Jordan Williams, Johan Petro, DeShawn Stevenson (sign and trade) and Houston's lotto-protected first in 2013 for Johnson.
Johnson, 31, has four years and nearly $90 million left on his contract. But the Nets believe that if Deron Williams re-signs, they'd have one of the most dynamic backcourts in the NBA.
WHY IT’S GOOD: First and foremost, the Nets add talent to their roster. They also didn't have much to get Johnson. They were able to avoid giving up MarShon Brooks and their own first-rounder in 2013. The Nets still have their $5 million mid-level exception (used on Bosnian stretch forward Mirza Teletovic) and their $1.95 million bi-annual exception. They also still have Bird rights on unrestricted free agent high-flyer Gerald Green.
And if Williams leaves, the Nets have a superstar to market around heading into their first season at the $1 billion Barclays Center. They could always try and pair Johnson with unrestricted free agent Steve Nash in the event Williams bolts to Dallas.
WHY IT'S BAD: By taking on Johnson's massive deal, the Nets all but took themselves out of the running for Dwight Howard. (UPDATE: Broussard reports the Nets and Magic are engaged in talks about Howard Tuesday morning.) Magic GM Rob Hennigan revealed Monday that the 26-year-old center, who averaged almost 21 points and 16 rebounds per game last season, asked to be traded to the Nets.
Sure Howard had back problems, but it seems like the same gamble as taking on Johnson, given his age and salary. Plus, Johnson likes to have the ball in his hands -- like Williams -- and has never been known for being a winner. Certainly another big risk by GM Billy King.
NOW WHAT? Well, the Nets still need to re-sign Williams. They were meeting with him Monday afternoon, sources said. They also need lock up restricted free agent Brook Lopez, bring in a rugged rebounder/defender up front and add depth as well. Jason Kidd perhaps?
PLAYOFFS? Assuming the Nets can put a starting five together of Lopez, Teletovic, recently re-signed Gerald Wallace (four years, $40 million), Johnson and Williams, they'd be a playoff team in the East and probably could wreak some havoc as well. The Nets haven't made the playoffs in five seasons. But is this team better than the Heat or Celtics? Probably not. Still, the fact that they are competitive again -- assuming everything works out -- will probably be enough for most Nets fans.