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Veteran Joe Johnson reaches buyout agreement with the Brooklyn Nets

Details of Johnson's buyout and possible front runners to sign him.

Joe Johnson

On Thursday afternoon, the Brooklyn Nets’ General Manager Sean Marks announced that they have reached an agreement with veteran shooting guard Joe Johnson on a buyout. He will become a free agent once he clears waivers, which according to Bobby Marks of the Vertical is at 5 pm on Saturday, and has up to the 1 March to sign with another team.

"The Nets want to thank Joe for his many contributions to the team and the organization," said Marks. "Joe has been a quality professional since joining the Nets four years ago, was a valued member of three playoff teams, and provided many thrilling moments for his teammates and Nets' fans. We wish him much success in the future."

Traded to Brooklyn in the summer of 2012, Johnson averaged 14.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists on 43.2 shooting in 288 games for the franchise. In his final year of the six-year 123 million dollar contract he signed with the Atlanta Hawks in 2010, Johnson was considered a prime buyout target early in the season however reports surfaced that he wasn’t interested in the option and would consider the possibility of re-signing with the Nets at the end of the season. 

Waiving Johnson, the Nets have parted ways with their oldest player and are on the right track for a rebuild around young center Brook Lopez and also possibly Thaddeus Young. After a certain point in the season, the franchise and Johnson wanted different things. The Nets do not have a roster to be competitive against the league’s best and have been rebuilding as their next step, meanwhile veteran Johnson believes he can still ball and be useful if he is in the right situation.

Johnson’s value to Playoff teams

Although there has been a gradual decline in his numbers since arriving in Brooklyn, the dip in averages has more to do with more talent around him and later on a lack of talent. This ongoing season has been nothing less than a disaster for the Nets and Johnson has struggled to find his rhythm on the court with a team failing to even be competitive on the court.

So although he might not be as efficient and productive as he was in his days with the Atlanta Hawks, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein multiple Playoff teams including the Hawks are interested in him.

This season he is averaging 11.8 points, 4.1 assists and 3.9 rebounds at 40.6% shooting in 34 minutes of playing time. Once again the numbers don’t speak a lot but his impact on the floor off the bench for a Playoff team lacking scoring at the 2 or 3 spot is hugely under-rated. Catch this amazing stat on Johnson’s play since New Year’s Day:

Multiple rumors on Twitter have the Cleveland Cavaliers as front-runners to land Johnson and according to Marc Stein the Cavs’ front office believe they are in prime position to sign Johnson. If we are to jump to the assumption that the Cavs are the winners of the Joe Johnson sweepstakes, the franchise’s luxury tax bill would be shattering and record breaking. That’s what makes the Oklahoma City Thunder a silent strong contender after Cleveland. 

As part of the trade that brought Randy Foye to Oklahoma City, the Thunder not only received a 3.8 million dollar trade exception that expires in a year but were also able to save close to 8 million. The Thunder also hold an advantage over the Cavs in the category of playing time. Given his relatively efficient shooting range and decent physical defense, there’s no doubt Johnson (if with OKC) will eat into some minutes of Dion Waiters and will play some key fourth quarter time.

Johnson’s 14 year NBA experience would be handy and key in any Playoff locker room. He is a 7-time NBA All-Star and was named to the All-NBA Third Team in 2010. 

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