The Brooklyn Nets are in disarray. Sitting at 5-15 in the historically weaker Eastern Conference, good for second-to-last place in front of the dismal 76ers, the outlook for the team looks bleak. Not having enough cap room to make any significant additions to the roster, coupled with not owning its own 1st round draft pick until 2019, Brooklyn is not set up for success – present or future.
Now, with promising rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson sidelined due to surgery, hope is pretty much lost for the Nets. Although tanking is a painful reality, especially with division-rival Boston positioned to benefit holding their unprotected 1st round pick (Ben Simmons anyone?), it may be time for a necessary change for the franchise. The first step in clearing payroll and trying to get some return on assets would be to deal the few players they do have for any kind of return they can manage. With the Nets seemingly willing to accept back cents on the dollar, a deal of veteran scorer Joe Johnson to a contender could end up being the steal of the NBA trade season. Brooklyn has no incentive to keep Johnson on an expiring contract, and a trade returning just about anything to help would be much better than a straight buyout.
With that in mind, here are a few teams that could benefit from a deal for the swingman (note: these trade proposals are completely hypothetical and may or may not be possible):
Charlotte Hornets – A young, energetic team that is up-and-coming, the roster lacks playoff experience and could use a go-to scorer and a veteran presence at the end of games. With PJ Hairston and Jeremy Lamb still developing, Johnson can also serve as a mentor for them, positioning the team for a playoff spot this year and beyond.
Possible deal: Joe Johnson to Charlotte for Tyler Hansbrough and Aaron Harrison
Detroit Pistons – With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and other young players on the roster, this situation is similar to that of the Hornets. Johnson would provide a leader for the youth that is still developing, and is able to step right into that starting lineup for the rest of the year, perhaps long enough to get the Pistons young core to the playoffs for experience.
Possible deal: Joe Johnson for Brandon Jennings (injured and expiring) and Reggie Bullock
Los Angeles Clippers – This team has tremendous talent and high expectations as the current best team in LA. However, all of this talent has yet to make a deep push into the postseason, and adding a veteran presence off of the bench could be invaluable for the playoffs. High pressure scorers don’t just grow on trees, and to get Johnson at a steep discount on an expiring contract may be enticing.
Possible deal: Joe Johnson for Lance Stephenson and a 2nd round pick
Oklahoma City Thunder – Even after firing Scott Brooks, this team has not performed up to expectations, and fans are clamoring for an extended playoff run for the Thunder. Although playing styles may clash, Johnson’s scoring ability and ability to attract some of the attention off of Durant and Westbrook at the end of games could be a fantastic asset for the team, and also serve as a calming influence on the younger guys such as Andre Roberson and Dion Waiters.
Possible deal: Joe Johnson for Mitch McGary and Cameron Payne
Washington Wizards – The Wiz are a talented team, looking to build on their success of last season, and could use some scoring off of the bench. Coupled with the youth of Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr., Johnson can also serve as a mentor while exuding confidence while on the floor through his stoic, collected nature – something good teams need when things start to unravel in a game. Also, Johnson will immediately become a leader in the locker room, while giving the team a competitive mix of youth and experience.
Possible deal: Joe Johnson for DeJuan Blair and a top-20 protected 1st round pick