Brooklyn Nets Rumors: Joe Johnson to Charlotte?


Brooklyn Nets Rumors: Could Joe Johnson Really Be On His Way To The Charlotte Hornets?

Starting last night, there have been multiple reports and speculation that the Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Hornets are working on a deal to send Joe Johnson to the Hornets in exchange for a package centered around Lance Stephenson. This would be a major shake-up for the Nets and would indicate to fans that the Nets are practically giving up on the current 2014-15 season.

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With point guard Deron Williams being sidelined with injuries, Mirza Teletovic suffering a season-ending injury, and the Nets’ 2015 struggles, it looks like management is ready to dismantle the team. Brook Lopez was involved in many trade rumors a couple weeks ago, but nothing had happened yet. Now we are hearing rumblings that Johnson may be dealt, even after admitting that he is playing through tendonitis.

Trading Joe Johnson would be a major blow to the Nets’ chances of making the playoffs this year, even to compete for the seventh or eighth seed. Johnson, though not as good as he was in the past couple of years, is still their best player. Jarrett Jack and Mason Plumlee have shown signs of consistency, but they cannot be fully trusted to carry the team on their backs (at least, not yet). Joe Johnson has proven that he can carry the load and be there when the game is on the line. Despite his struggles this year, he is still the Nets’ best and most reliable player.

Jan 17, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets small forward Joe Johnson (7) controls the ball against Washington Wizards small forward Rasual Butler (8) during the second quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

What would trading Johnson mean for the Nets?

It would mean that GM Billy King has seen enough mediocrity with a high-priced roster, and wants to proceed to break down the team, even if it means trading their best players. The timing of the trade seems peculiar; the Nets are not in a rebuilding mode. They do not have their own draft pick this year (Atlanta Hawks have the right to swap), and traded their future picks to the Boston Celtics in the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett deal. Trading Johnson without receiving draft picks or good value would purely be a salary dump.

Stephenson was regarded as having triple-double potential on any given night during free agency. However, he has not fit in well with the Hornets, and has barely had an impact. The Hornets are clearly looking to get rid of him and appears that the Nets have interest. Stephenson has talent, but has shown repeated immaturity. In addition, it is still up in the air as to whether Stephenson will ever reach his potential consistently, or if he was just over-hyped.

Stuck at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff hunt and unable to rebuild without high draft picks or salary cap room, the Nets dug themselves into a hole. Trading Johnson would dig them deeper and would be a questionable move, unless they are able to get back good talent. I believe Stephenson would not make up for the loss of Johnson to the roster, and a trade would effectively indicate that the Nets are giving up on the season.

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Having big contracts, no good draft picks, and no cap-space is not a winning formula for NBA teams, but downgrading talent while still being stuck in the same position is almost baffling. The Nets are better off keeping both Johnson and Lopez now that they are already burdened with big contracts. This at least gives fans the hope of reaching the playoffs as the 7th or 8th seed. Though they may not have a realistic chance of competing with the top teams in the East,  it is still better for fans to see ONE playoff series. The alternative? Finish at the bottom without good draft picks or cap space.

Trading Joe Johnson at this juncture should lead Nets fans to question; Billy King, what are you doing?

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