Joe Johnson and the Brooklyn Nets are reportedly beginning discussions over a contract buyout, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. This news was certainly not unexpected, as Johnson was the subject of many trade rumors leading into the league deadline, but no deal was ever found. Now, as the Nets' new general manager Sean Marks begins his pursuit to rebuild the roster, Johnson is expected to be on his way out, with the Cleveland Cavaliers the assumed landing spot.
Johnson is currently the second-highest paid player in league, as he makes $24.9 million in the final year of his contract. The shooting guard is averaging 11.8 points on 40.6 percent shooting but has come alive since returning from the All-Star break. While his numbers are not very enticing to an opposing team, Johnson could help a struggling offense coming off the bench. Marks told ESPN that the veteran deserved to sign with a playoff team.
"I think he's deserved the right to [play on a playoff team if that's what he wants]," Marks said, via ESPN.com.
A lot of teams are preparing to pursue Johnson, with the Cleveland Cavaliers emerging as a favorite, according to Stein. The Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors are all being listed as potential landing spots. If Johnson wants to sign with a playoff contender, he could favorite an Eastern Conference team, which leaves the Cavaliers as a favorite. The Thunder and Rockets are to be competing with the Golden State Warriors for the remainder of the year, while the Cavaliers are already at the top.
At the trade deadline, the Cavaliers acquired Channing Frye, leaving little money to get Johnson. The guard would have to be willing to agree to a minimum contract with the faith that he could earn a ring this season. Prior to the NBA trade deadline, the Cavaliers were considered a frontrunner to make a trade for Johnson, according to Chris Haynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer. They were targeting shooting help, as Ben McLemore and Kyle Korver were also targets. Now they have a chance to get Johnson on a smaller contract.
The Nets' buyout is not complete. Stein simply reported that talks were just beginning between the two. There is no timeline for when Johnson could be available, but teams will be ready when he finally is.