In his final season of a huge contract, Joe Johnson knows that he’s not going to winning anything with the Brooklyn Nets. Playoffs? Maybe, but that’s not one of his goals in the final seasons or days of his career.
Johnson is the second highest paid player in the NBA with $24.89 million a season. He’s 34 years old, averaging 11.2 points while shooting just 35.1% from the field, no longer playing any of the guard positions. So far this season he’s mostly at the ‘3’, as usual, but a little bit of power forward as well, as one of the least progressive coaches in the league, Lionel Hollins, can’t ignore the sign of the times and is playing some small ball from time to time, or a lineup with four perimeter players and a center.
But tactics and strategy aside, the interesting thing regarding Johnson isn’t the 5-13 record with the Nets or his scoring average. He’s no longer good enough to be a useful lineup player, but on a smaller role (playing 34.7 minutes a game this season!!!) on the right team? He can probably be very useful. And here comes the dilemma and question regarding the future.
As a free agent, assuming he’s healthy, Johnson shouldn’t have a problem signing with pretty much anyone in the league, with his goal set on contenders. He was targeted by the Cleveland Cavaliers before the season began, but the Nets weren’t trading him, and absorbing his contract for one of the title contenders was simply impossible.
The other option is a buy out he and the Nets might reach during the season. Maybe if they’re out of the playoff running at some point (have been picking up the pace recently after losing the first seven games of the season) that subject will be raised. In the meantime, Johnson is heading to free agency. The question is will he be patient enough to wait until then to join a team with better prospects of success in the league, or will his departure from Brooklyn, where he has playing since 2012, be coming sooner.