By John Schmeelk
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On one hand I very much admire what the Nets decided to do.
With a large shout, is seems they proclaimed they were done with Dwight Howard and his ridiculous antics. (Or did they?) It was about time somebody told the immature seven foot child that they wouldn’t wait for him to figure out his deal with the Magic.
Instead, Brooklyn spent its future money on Joe Johnson.
Some still think the Nets have a shot at Howard, with a combination of Brook Lopez, Marshon Brooks, Gerald Wallace, Gerald Green and first-round picks. I don’t buy it. That would mean the Magic would have to commit to four years of their core featuring that quartet. Thanks, but no thanks.
Assuming the Nets manage to retain Deron Williams (no sure thing), they pretty much have their team set in stone for the next four years. If Mikhail Prokhorov decides he is comfortable going over the luxury tax, the Nets will go to war with this roster:
Starters: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez
Bench: Marshon Brooks, Gerald Green, Mirza Teletovic (assuming he is the target of their mid-level exception), and future first-round picks
Is this team good enough to win a championship? No. But can they be a top four seed in the East? Yes. I don’t think they are quite as talented as the Knicks, but they aren’t that far behind. They can certainly compete with the likes of the Knicks and Celtics, and are a level or two behind the Heat and Bulls. It’s hard to argue with a trade that does that for a Nets team that was one of the worst in basketball last year.
That doesn’t mean the move isn’t without its problems. Joe Johnson is due about $90 million over the next four years, one of the richest in the sport. He is not worth that type of money. He just turned 31 and is not the athlete he used to be. Johnson is a good player, but not a great one. If he is a team’s best player, they are not going to win a championship. His contract is an albatross that will prevent the Nets from adding any other players in the near future.
Williams would be that guy for the Nets, but he’s also a guy I don’t think is good enough to be the No. 1 option on a championship team. I also wonder how well he will play with Johnson, someone else that needs the ball in his hands. He has never played with a big time wing scorer before.
Throw in Wallace, Brooks and Green, and will there be enough basketball to satisfy the demands of so many wing players? Can Brook Lopez even get his hands on the ball in the post? If Lopez doesn’t score, he’s useless, since he can’t rebound a lick. There’s going to be a lot of pressure on Avery Johnson to make this group work, and not fall back into “Iso-Joe.”
If Marshon Brooks or Gerald Wallace develops, or Mirza Teletovic is a real deal power forward the team could be extremely dangerous. The Nets will also have their first round picks every season for the foreseeable future to try and add valuable pieces in the draft or via trade. The Nets will have to hit on those picks since they will have little flexibility elsewhere.
All in all, it was a trade the Nets had to make so they would be relevant heading into their new building. They’re closer, but they have shot their bullet. This is a big move and they won’t have a chance to make another for quite a long time. Joe Johnson has to work out because the Nets are stuck with him. This is the Brooklyn vanguard.
- Anyone who has played ball in Brooklyn knows the most annoying kids are the ones that like to dribble in one place for a year and a day before deciding to throw up a bad shot. Joe Johnson will fit right in.
- I love the trade for the Hawks. In addition, they traded Marvin Williams for Devin Harris who has one less year on his contract. Atlanta will basically be able to start their roster from scratch with Al Horford and Jeff Teague as their core. They can also be used in a potential for someone like… Dwight Howard. Yes, the Hawks are definitely in play for him now.
- One note on the Knicks: they are not going to lose Jeremy Lin in free agency. Trust me when I say the Knicks will not let the luxury tax three years from now prevent them from bringing back their most marketable player. Not going to happen.
I’ll continue to provide coverage of NBA free agency on Twitter; follow me @Schmeelk.
Your thoughts on the Johnson trade? Be heard in the comments below…