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The Hoop Doctors

In Defense of Joe Johnson and the Nets

July 3, 2012 – Dan Favale

The Brooklyn Nets threw financial caution to the wind on Monday, agreeing in principle on a deal that brings in Atlanta Hawks All-Star shooting guard Joe Johnson.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

The Nets and Hawks have agreed in principle to complete the Joe Johnson trade, league sources tell Y! Sports.

Johnson—who is owed close to $90 million over the four years—is wildly overpriced. And he’s not Dwight Howard, nor is Gerald Wallace, whom the Nets recently re-signed to a four-year, $40 million deal. But this deal isn’t shortsighted, unwarranted or even illogical. It makes perfect sense.

Though Johnson’s salary all but eclipses any hopes the Nets had of obtaining Howard, it gives them yet another star-caliber player to bring into Barclays Center as their own. That’s right, another. This deal does not damage Brooklyn’s chances of re-signing Deron Williams. There is no way the Nets—who have planned their entire future around Williams—would pursue a deal of this magnitude without him knowing. It’s that simple.

Once Brooklyn realized its Howard aspirations were closer than ever to being rendered futile, it reacted. And Williams will understand. Not only can the Johnson and Williams pick-and-roll be ran countless times over the course of a 48-minute game, but the Nets now have three of the NBA’s most dangerous scorers in the game—provided Williams returns—on the same roster. And then there’s always youngsters Marshon Brooks and Brook Lopez to consider, two talented scorers in their own right.

But what if Williams opts to take his talents to the Dallas Mavericks, you ask? Well, then this trade was a necessity.

The Nets cannot head into Brooklyn with only Wallace to headline their cause. They need star-power, and Deron or no Deron, Johnson brings that to the table. He’s simply overpriced, not incapable. He’s a guy that’s going to give you 20 points per game and play tough perimeter defense. Is he worth $90 million? No, but hardly any player in the Association at this point is worth the money their being paid.

Howard all but blew his chances at landing in Brooklyn when he opted into the final year of his contract with the Orlando Magic, and it’s not up to the Nets to stand idly by and watch their blueprint for success implode on account of an athlete’s indecisiveness. They reacted, and by doing so, acquired a current All-Star for next to nothing.

Are the Nets officially championship contenders? Assuming Williams returns, the answer is likely still no. But they’re that much closer.

Much closer than they would have been had they opted to continue the all or nothing pursuit of Howard.

Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at in addition to Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.

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