Why trading for Joe Johnson was a smarter move than anyone is giving the Nets credit for

As soon as the news came out yesterday, the entire world was basically planning a Danny Ferry Day parade in the streets of Atlanta to celebrate the man who rid the Hawks of this, the most heinous of contracts. Surely, Atlanta had buyer remorse almost immediately after they signed Joe Johnson to a 6 year, 119 million dollar deal and just as surely, they were looking for a sucker, any sucker, willing to take him off their fans.

Well, they found one. Or did they?

If you assess Joe Johnson the player, he’s still a pretty damn good shooting guard, capable of getting his own shot or functioning as a facilitator if need be. This guy has made the last 6 all-star teams. Hardly an accident, that. Also, as a player who relies as much on his superior size at his position and guile as his athleticism, he’s likely still got some good years left in him at the age of 31.

Stick him next to Deron Williams and you’ve got yourself a pretty lethal backcourt. Answer this much for me: Is there a better one in the league right now?

Yeah, it’s easy to bust Brooklyn’s balls for eating that massively shitty contract, but they had at least three very good reasons to do so. Because of Dwight Howard’s monumentally stupid decision to opt in to the last year of his contract despite not wanting to (it was BLACKMAIL!), The Nets were up against a deadline to get anything resembling a star player to pair with Williams. Without one, their chances of retaining him were going to be slim and none.  If you think of it terms of “either they get Johnson or Williams leaves”, well, it starts to make more sense.

Reason #2: As I said last year when the Clippers traded for Chris Paul, there’s no such thing as overpaying to be relevant. Who is dominating headlines in the NBA right now? The Nets are, the franchise with nothing but a couple Finals appearances and decades of abject failure attached to their names. Now, as they embark on their maiden voyage in Brooklyn, they, not the Knicks, will be the talk of the town. Without Johnson, there might not be any DWill, and without both of them, none of this would be possible.

A you know what might be the most important factor here? Of all the teams in the league (with the possible exception of Miami), the Nets might be the one with the best chance of being able to spend into the EXTREME luxury tax that hits the NBA in 2014. Now, I’m not pretending to know this for a fact or anything. Just call it a hunch. If they are operating with the idea of not spending a dime or the 70 million dollar luxury tax threshold, then it’s impossible to imagine how they would do so while spending a combined 50 million annually on Williams, Johnson and Gerald Wallace. if they should somehow find a way to land Howard, that’s 70 million on FOUR PLAYERS.

As I see it, the Nets have to be fully aware of this. Pretty sure someone in that front office has a calculator. My guess is between the brand new revenue, the merchandising possibilities and the 19 billion dollar net worth of an owner who is excited to be fielding a contending team, they’ve already resigned to spending what it takes to be taken seriously.

Like I said, this is just a hunch. More of a educated guess, maybe. Either way,I think it’s safe to say that there’s no doubting the talent of Joe Johnson the player so much as the price tag attached to him.

If Prokhorov has his checkbook out like I’m guessing he does, the Nets are going to be serious players in no time flat, Howard or No Howard.

Take it to the bank.

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