King: Don't judge Joe by his contract

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Joe Johnson is 31 and owed $89 million over the next four years.

Yeah ... that and he has been known more for his ball-stopping offensive abilities than his playoff record.

"I don't know why everybody focuses on his money, because they're not paying it, Mikhail Prokhorov is," Nets GM Billy King said Tuesday. "Focus on him as a basketball player, because I think he's one of the best two-guards in the league."

King said Johnson, a six-time All-Star, wasn't in the equation heading into this summer because Atlanta had a different GM at the time. Then Danny Ferry took over, and the two executives were able to work out a blockbuster trade to send Johnson to Brooklyn.

Deron Williams admitted after re-signing that the Johnson deal was the main reason he elected to stay.

• King took a chance on noted troublemaker Andray Blatche, giving him a make good contract.

"I think he's got a clean slate," King said. "I think he's got the talent, His weight is the best it's ever been. It's 264. He's lost weight. I told him, 'You got a clean slate and an opportunity to just play basketball.' I'm not gonna put any expectations on him. I'm just gonna let him play basketball and see how things unfold."

• King said the team elected to sign rookie second-round pick Tornike Shengelia because of their cap situation. The Nets will only have the tax mid-level next offseason, and the GM intimated he may use it to bring over Bojan Bogdanovic.

• King said he was in contact with free-agent point guards Steve Nash and Goran Dragic in case Williams elected to bolt for Dallas.

• King believes he assembled a roster of "team-first" players, and isn't worried about having so many scorers, saying "the team itself will dictate what roles are. Players will define their roles throughout practice."

• King said something similar to Johnson about Josh Childress, who is on a make-good contract after being amnestied by Phoenix.

"I think he's the same basketball player. I just think his contract has always defined him," King said.

King has always liked Childress since his Atlanta days, and likes his offensive rebounding and back-cutting ability.

MarShon Brooks said his goal is to with the Sixth Man Award, but King wants him to go into training camp trying to win the starting job. He also thinks Brooks can learn a lot from swingmen like Johnson and veteran Jerry Stackhouse.

• King thinks the revamped Atlantic Division is going to be "fun" to play in.