The NBA trade period is slowly reaching its end with the league’s deadline only a few days away. Many names have been swirling around the rumor mill these past few weeks, but one veteran All-Star had recently made his way into the latest trade rumors: Utah Jazz forward Joe Johnson.
Reports are out that the 36-year-old Johnson wants to leave the Jazz and move forward with a different team. The New York Times’ Marc Stein revealed the news, saying that the seven-time All-Star is “angling behind the scenes for a trade out of Utah.”
Johnson has been one of the best scorers in the NBA, averaging more than 18 points per game in seven seasons during his prime years with the Atlanta Hawks. However, Father Time really has a way of slowing down top players and there is no denying that the 17-year veteran has become its latest casualty.
Right now, Johnson is averaging 7.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in only 22.0 minutes per game in 29 games (mostly off the bench) for head coach Quin Snyder, all of them the lowest in his career except for his rookie season. The former Arkansas standout is also shooting a career-low 26.7 percent from three-point range, which had been his bread-and-butter way of scoring the basketball through the years.
With his evident on-court struggles, Johnson’s trade value is also at its lowest at this point, and not a lot of teams are expected to pursue him before the deadline.
However, Christopher Kline of FanSided’s The Sixers Sense blog said that Johnson “could fix the Philadelphia 76ers’ issues without a hefty price tag” and so a deal may soon be met between the two sides.
The Sixers are short on reliable bench scorers, and Johnson’s natural scoring ability and veteran savvy are considered to be more than enough to help the young squad, particularly during crunch time, despite his current offensive slump.
Kline said that while the Sixers have been linked to the Memphis Grizzlies’ Tyreke Evans and Los Angeles Clippers’ Lou Williams, both players would require at least a future first-rounder in exchange, which is reportedly too much for Philly to give up.
Meanwhile, Johnson’s expiring $10.5 million contract makes him an even more attractive trade asset. The Sixers could just try and bring him in for the rest of the season, and if the experiment fails then they could just let him go in free agency during the summer.
Kline noted that the Jazz might ask for either Amir Johnson or Trevor Booker as a return for Johnson. While the Sixers could lose some frontcourt depth with such a deal, it would still be an advantage for Philly as Richaun Holmes is expected to gain more playing time without Johnson or Booker around.
NJ Advance Media’s Zack Rosenblatt reported that the “most likely scenario” would be the Jazz buying out Johnson after the deadline, and the Sixers signing him as a free agent afterward.
Rosenblatt noted that Johnson might choose a championship contender, though, such as the Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, or Cleveland Cavaliers, rather than move to Philadelphia should he hit free agency.