Contrary to numerous reports, the Nets were never interested in trading shooting guard Joe Johnson, according to SB Nation's Nets Daily.
There were rumors since the beginning of free agency that Johnson could be on the move, with the Grizzlies and Cavaliers emerging as possible destinations. However, those teams, and not the Nets, were the ones to initiate the talks. The priority was always to get rid of point guard Deron Williams and keep Johnson.
Brooklyn's front office had a mandate to get under the luxury tax line, so it needed to get one of Williams or Johnson off its books one way or another. Because there was no trade market for Williams, moving Johnson was something the team did consider when it got offers. Yet the priority remained to move Williams, which they managed to do by coming to an agreement on a buyout. Once that happened, the team always intended to keep Johnson, per Nets Daily's sources.
Williams had a year left on his contract after next season and didn't get along with Johnson, according to Nets Daily. Moreover, he has been a disappointment as one of the highest paid players in the league for the past two years. After a solid start to his Nets career, his production dipped considerably to the point where he lost his starting spot for a while last season.
With Williams out of the way, team officials expect Johnson to bounce back. The 14-year veteran has seen his scoring decline over the past four years, but now could get the touches he needs to become a potent offensive weapon again. Even if he doesn't go back to being the 20-point scorer he was in his prime, his veteran leadership will be of help in a suddenly young locker room.
The Nets painted themselves into a corner, roster-wise, with a string of ill-fated win-now moves that will take years to undo. This offseason, however, things worked out well for them. The player they wanted gone is now in Dallas and Johnson, on the last year of his contract, could be a key piece to keep their playoff hopes alive.
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