The Brooklyn Nets waived Joe Johnson on Thursday, allowing the seven-time All-Star to leave one of the NBA’s worst teams and join a contender.
The Nets announced the move after agreeing to a buyout of the remainder of Johnson’s contract — one of the largest in the NBA. Players must be waived by March 1 in order to sign with another team and be eligible for the playoffs.
His departure comes after the Nets’ buyout last summer of Deron Williams, who teamed with Johnson to make up "Brooklyn’s Backcourt" that provided plenty of promise but just one playoff series victory.
"The Nets want to thank Joe for his many contributions to the team and the organization," general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. "Joe has been a quality professional since joining the Nets four years ago, was a valued member of three playoff teams, and provided many thrilling moments for his teammates and Nets’ fans. We wish him much success in the future."
The 34-year-old Johnson will first have to clear waivers before he can pick from any potential suitors. That should be a certainty, as any team claiming him would have to pay the remainder of his $24.9 million salary that trails only Kobe Bryant this season.
Marks told ESPN Radio that Johnson gave up $3 million in the deal. He could make up some of that in a deal with a new club, and Johnson could draw interest from a number of contending teams. The Cleveland Cavaliers, who have two open roster spots, could be one of them.
Johnson was acquired from Atlanta in 2012 and helped the Nets make the playoffs in their first three seasons in Brooklyn. But they are 15-42 this season.
Now playing forward, Johnson is averaging just 11.8 points this season, and his streak of more than 900 straight games with a field goal recently ended. But the career 17 points-per-game scorer remains a dangerous and clutch shooter who beat Denver with a 3-pointer at the buzzer this month.
The Nets acquired him about the same time they re-signed Williams to a maximum contract in July 2012, as they were set to play their first season in Brooklyn. Johnson went on to average 14.7 points in 288 games for the Nets.
Brooklyn now has 13 players on its roster, having also waived Andrea Bargnani since Marks took over on Feb. 18.