Coming into this season, it made sense to believe Joe Johnson would be a constant on the Nets. From the lack of athletes to the shedding of actual talent, there were plenty of reasons to have concerns about this Brooklyn team. Johnson, who had been relatively consistent during his first three seasons with the organization, just wasn't one of them.
It turns out we were all wrong.
Johnson has based most of his success in Brooklyn on skill over athleticism. He was a capable three-point shooter, a fine facilitator an scorer in post-up play. He wasn't the worst wing defender in the world. Basically, he could be a veteran who could find ways to contribute. That was all in theory, though.
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Now, after shooting just 35 percent from the field and not even 31 percent from three through the Nets' first 31 games of the season, the Nets have a problem with their highest-paid player, the same man who just so happens to be the second-highest-paid player in the NBA.
There's always the chance of a buyout with Johnson, but you'd have to imagine he would have to be willing to give back a bunch of money to facilitate such a move. The Nets probably wouldn't even considering such a move until after the trade deadline in February, but by that time, they wouldn't even have that much money left on the books for Johnson, who makes $24.9 million this year, but who comes off the books and enters free agency at season's end. Let's also not forget that even amid the falloff in his production, the numbers say Brooklyn has been notably better with Johnson on the floor than when he's off it.
Still, Johnson has a good relationship with the organization, and if he wants to get to a winning team (even after Brooklyn's win over Miami, the team is still just 9-22 on the season), there's always a chance the team feels bad for a good samaritan and allows him to walk to a contender at the end of February or March.
When asked recently about the trade value of Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson, one Western Conference scout summed it up in six brutally painful words: “He makes a lot of money.”
After 15 NBA seasons and seven All-Star appearances, the 34-year-old Johnson has turned from a very good basketball player into just another contract a team can’t wait to get off its books. Mercifully for Brooklyn, Johnson’s contract expires at the end of this season. When it’s all said and done in Brooklyn— unless he gets traded or bought out this season, the latter of which which seems more likely— Johnson will have made just under $89.3 million over four seasons, one All-Star appearance and one playoff series victory, assuming the 9-22 Nets fail to turn this season around.