It’s not yet official, but chances are good that the newly christened Brooklyn Nets would be acquiring Atlanta Hawks’ All Star guard Joe Johnson. In a handshake agreement, both the Nets and Hawks have agreed on the trade, where the Nets would be providing Atlanta with several players whose contracts would be expiring, among them are Jordan Farmar, DeShawn Stevenson, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro, and Jordan Williams, as well as a future first round pick.
On paper, this move seemed to be more in Brooklyn’s favor, as up and coming point guard MarShon Brooks, which Atlanta insisted be included in the trade, was able to remain in the roster, as well as retain their own first round pick for the 2013-14 season. This move can be seen as a major restructure for the Nets, whose current actions also include the still currently unsuccessful signing of Orlando Magic superstar Dwight Howard, as well as their attempts to re-sign Deron Williams, who is currently a free agent. However, it has been reported that Williams is also in talks with the Dallas Mavericks, and although salary cap restrictions would allow the Nets to offer Williams a bigger contract, the Mavs are able to offer him a bigger championship opportunity, as Dallas, led by German Dirk Nowitzki, was able to prove that they can bring the team to the top just two years ago.
Small forward Gerald Wallace, who contract would also be expiring, would also be signed to a four year deal, but would have to wait until July 11 to make it official.
The Hawks, however, were looking more on long term restructuring. Recently hired GM Danny Ferry, Atlanta was able to wipe over $90 million off their payroll by removing Johnson and Marvin Williams, who was just recently traded to Utah for the expiring contract of point guard Devin Harris. This move allows them much more freedom with regards to the salary cap, and can also entice superstars Chris Paul, currently playing for the Los Angeles Clippers, as well as Dwight Howard, whom sources say that the Hawks have been interested in as well, to join some time next season. Due to the release of Johnson from their roster, Atlanta may now offer the two with maximum contracts, as well as be able to retain other players such as Josh Smith with contracts similar or slightly higher than their current salaries.
Joe Johnson, an 11 year veteran who first played for the Boston Celtics in 2001, was inarguably the top player of the Hawks, with the guard/forward topping several statistical categories within the team. However, Atlanta management had been criticized for offering Johnson a six year, $120 million contract, which greatly limited the Hawks’ future actions with regards to the cap. This trade, however, corrects that, and Ferry had been praised for the move.
Both the Nets and the Hawks can take advantage of these trades, and with the landscape of the NBA still changing with blockbuster trades and agent signings, fans will have to wait until October to see which roster has the biggest chance of turning their team into a championship contender.