03 July 2012

What the Joe Johnson trade means for the Nets and the Hawks

The Brooklyn Nets finally swung themselves the big move that everyone has been expecting them to make since acquiring Deron Williams in February of 2011 by acquiring Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson (via sign-and-trade), Johan Petro and Houston's 2013 first rounder that was received in the Terrence Williams trade that is also lottery protected.

In what is expected to be a wide open Eastern Conference with the exception of the defending champs, how does this trade affect both clubs?

For the Nets, this also comes with the news of them re-signing Gerald Wallace, acquired in that awful trade deadline deal with Portland that resulted in the sixth overall selection going to the Pacific Northwest, to a four year, $40 million deal that was double what any other team would give him, as well as the likely (but not a guarantee) that Williams re-signs to a max deal (he has been reported a few minutes ago to be working out at the Nets facilities). Center Brook Lopez has also yet to re-sign but he is expected to do so as well.

This Nets club is obviously much improved, considering they gave up some fringe contributors for a really good, but not great, scoring swingman to have some pieces around Williams and they will be a playoff team in a much weakened East, but this is also a team that will be paying $50 million in 2013-14 to just Williams, Johnson (who comes with his own bloated contract), and Wallace. The Nets could bring back Kris Humphries and add somebody via the mid-level exception and they will absolutely be much improved over the product they have put on the court the last several years. A core of Williams, Johnson, Wallace and Lopez, as well as talented second-year guard MarShon Brooks, is one really good offense, a subpar defense but their ceiling in the playoffs would not be incredibly high. In fact, their ceiling would not be much higher than what Atlanta's was, which was second round at best. The Nets will obviously be much better, sell a lot of tickets and build a quality fanbase as they move into the Barclays Center in the fall but they could have a whole lot more and that could be if they somehow swing a trade for Howard. Chris Broussard and his legendary sources says that Brooklyn is working on a trade for Howard in exchange for Lopez, Humphries, Brooks and their first round selections in 2013, 2015 and 2017. I would be surprised if Orlando would accept that package because while it is not awful, it certainly is not great by any means. Of course, there is that risk that Howard leaves after next season plus the fact that Howard only seems to want to go to Brooklyn and not Houston or Los Angeles. Anyways, the Nets will be much improved but do not expect a title to come in the near future.

As for the Hawks, while they received practically nothing outside of expiring contracts in exchange for one of their top players, this trade was a necessary one. Johnson's contract hamstrung what they could do to try and make another move forward in the East towards possibly competing with the Heat. But now they have so much more flexibility after this deal and the pending Marvin Williams deal for Devin Harris with Utah as now next summer they could very well make a run at Dwight Howard, who is said to be great pals with Josh Smith, whose contract is also expiring after this season, and maybe even Chris Paul as well because as of right now, only their really good center Al Horford and their young, talented point guard Jeff Teague, who may be in line for an extension, are on the books for next season. While the Hawks have taken a major hit on the court, one could easily see the reasoning of why new GM Danny Ferry made the move as it was really the only move possible to make the Hawks better, by making them worse for one season. And who knows, if they can get Howard to town or possibly Paul, we could have another superteam to compete with that other one that just won the title.

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