The NBA rumor mill is just a buzzing now that the Joe Johnson has finally been bought out and waived by the Brooklyn Nets.
Johnson will now have a choice of seven playoff teams, per Marc Stein of ESPN, if he clears waivers – which is a given as no team has enough cap room or any exception large enough to claim him. Johnson is earning $24.9 million this season in the final year of a six-year, $124 million deal that he signed with the Atlanta Hawks in 2010. Mike Mazzeo of ESPN is reporting that the 34-year-old will give $3 million back as part of the buyout.
Sources tell ESPN several playoff teams (Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Houston, Miami, OKC and Toronto) are already in pursuit of Joe Johnson— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 25, 2016
Johnson is scheduled to clear waivers at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, though it is believed Johnson will take a couple of days to think about what he wants to do.
Johnson appeared in 288 games for the Nets and he spent three and a half years with the team. The 34-year-old led Brooklyn to just one playoff appearance and the Nets don’t own their own first round selection until 2019.
Johnson has struggled this season; though, he has seen an uptick in production recently, averaging 13.2 points and 5.5 assists along with 4.2 rebounds through nine February games. The 6-foot-7 wing is averaging 11.8 points on 40.6 percent shooting from the field this season though he did hit his seventh game-winner earlier this month, which is the most by any NBA player over that span by a wide margin, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“The Nets want to thank Joe for his many contributions to the team and the organization,” Nets GM Sean Marks said in a press release. “Joe has been a quality professional since joining the Nets four years ago, was a valued member of three playoff teams, and provided many thrilling moments for his teammates and Nets’ fans. We wish him much success in the future.”
Cleveland, Atlanta and Miami appear to be the favorites. As Inquisitr previously reported, the Cavs have a slight edge due to the fact that they are the top team in the Eastern Conference and are the heavy favorites to represent the conference in NBA. However, Atlanta can offer a prorated portion of the room exception now worth around $2 million while Cleveland is limited to offering Johnson around $400,000.
Update: The Heat have become the favorites to land Johnson, ESPN’s Chris Broussard tweeted, due to the fact that he believes he will have a larger role with the team and receive more meaningful minutes. Miami may currently have edge for Johnson’s services, it doesn’t mean he will definitely end up there as dynamics change quickly.
Source: Miami Heat have emerged as the frontrunner to sign Joe Johnson. JJ feels he'd have a larger role & more meaningful minutes with Heat— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) February 26, 2016
Cleveland has two open roster spots available and could use another perimeter scorer. Channing Frye, who the Cavs received in a trade from Orlando, has made 4-of-8 from beyond the arc in Cleveland’s win over Charlotte on Wednesday. Reserve Iman Shumpert has missed the last three games and there is no timetable set for his return.
Atlanta (31-27) has scuffled a little this year, losing three straight and five-of-six. The Hawks, who are currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, don’t have a true perimeter threat or someone who can create their own shot off the catch. Atlanta has one open roster spot.
Miami, like Cleveland, has two roster spots, however, they are steadfast in avoiding paying the repeat offender tax for going over the salary cap. For the Heat to remain under the salary cap they can’t sign any player for the rest of the season until March 6.
OKC is likely the favorite among the rest of the teams interested in the 15-year veteran as the Thunder have one roster spot available and about $2.4 million of their mid-level exception left. Oklahoma City likely has the second or third best chance to reach the NBA Finals of the teams interested in Johnson. With Johnson, the Thunder would even be more dangerous offensively; OKC is second in the NBA, averaging 109.7 points a game.
Boston has two roster spots available and are looking for a veteran who is versatile and can shoot the ball according to Mass Live. The Celtics are believed to have a $2.8 million room exception available to convince Johnson to join the team.
Toronto (38-18) has won three in a row and are just three games behind the Cavs in the Eastern conference. The Raptors don’t currently have an open roster spot but could easily cut someone to make room, i.e. Anthony Bennett, Norman Powell or James Johnson.
In the meanwhile, Houston is the least likely to team to obtain the services of Johnson. The Rockets are in disarray and they are currently ninth in the Western Conference playoff race. They also don’t currently have an open roster spot.
[AP Photo/Julie Jacobson]