In the midst of clearing one of the league’s most expensive payrolls, the Brooklyn Nets have reportedly offered shooting guard Joe Johnson and his expiring $24.9 million contract to the Memphis Grizzlies.
According to ESPN, the two sides have discussed the potential deal but have put things on hold, but that Brooklyn believes it can eventually move Johnson’s mega-contract.
Johnson and point guard Deron Williams contract have crippled the Nets ability to bring in free agents or really participate in the trade market over the last couple of years, but moving Johnson now would allow them some wiggle room in free agency this summer and in 2016 when the salary cap floor will rise to as much as $90 million.
As of now, Brooklyn has $60.7 million on its payroll for next season with the cap expected to be in the $67 million range. Trading Johnson gives the Nets more freedom in re-signing center Brook Lopez as well.
The Grizzles have long been one of the best defensive clubs in the NBA, but are in need of more scoring on the perimeter, something Johnson could contribute in spells beside point guard Mike Conley Jr. and shooting guard Tony Allen. Though Memphis were also exploring a trade for Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Galinari, but couldn't iron out a deal.
A lack of shooting and scoring played a major role in Memphis’ six-game loss to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals last month.
ESPN also reported that the Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons were in the mix to land Johnson, but their respective trades for forward Nicolas Batum and Ersan Ilyasova before last week’s draft have likely removed them from talks.
The 34-year-old Johnson’s scoring has declined in the last four seasons, including only 14.4 points over 80 games last season.