If you’ve been following the NBA offseason, then you know a lot of players are trying to sign one or two year contracts this summer. The reason? They want to get back in line for a contract when the new television deal kicks in so that they can get PAID. The salary cap is expected to rise about $20 million next summer, and then another ~$20 million in 2017.
This means that down the line, players like Joe Johnson could be worth almost $25 million a year — although I wouldn’t pay him that even with a $100+ million cap. Wait, what’s that? Oh yeah, Johnson is set to make a shade under $25 mil next season, when the cap rises from $63 million to $67 million. Aside from Kobe, Johnson will be the highest paid player in the league. And the Nets think they can trade him …
If Brooklyn has any hope of moving the mammoth contract, it’s that JJ has an expiring deal. A team desperately trying to win in a tight window could take the wing scorer on and overpay him for just a season before parting ways. The problem is, the team trading for him would also have to have enough salary to send Brooklyn’s way to make the deal work.
Right now, Memphis is the hot team you’ll hear in the media regarding a Johnson trade. It’s tough to find a deal, because, naturally, the Grizz pay all of their best players the most money … imagine that. So without touching their core-four (Randolph, Gasol, Conley and Allen), here’s what it would take to make a deal work:
Is this worth it for either team?
The Nets would save some money this season, but have to roster more players (or be forced to pay them if they’re going to cut them). Green, Lee and Udrih are expiring (like Johnson), so they would come off the payroll at season’s end. Then the Nets (desperately in need of young, cost controlled players) get to see if Adams or Smith can catch on with a change of scenery in Brooklyn.
The Grizzlies get the best player in the trade, which is always nice, but are they sacrificing too much? A starting five of the four players I mentioned earlier, along with Johnson, is enticing. But if we learned anything from the Clippers last season, it’s that you can’t win with just your starting lineup. Golden State just showed us how important depth is, and Memphis would now have practically none of it. Not to mention they’d be spending about $5 million more (and already have to pay Gasol this summer), so finding the money to afford those bench guys would be nearly impossible. As constituted, a bench of Matt Barnes and Vince Carter will only get you so far …
Unless these GMs find a way to get surprisingly crafty, Brooklyn would be the winner of a trade like the one above. Tough to see Memphis pulling the trigger on a deal that handcuffs itself so much, even if it’s just for one season.
As much as the Nets want to trade Joe Johnson, they’re likely going to continue to pay the absurd contract that they have him on and never be able to rid themselves of it. Fortunately for Billy Kings, I already thought of a backup plan that frees them up to become players next offseason. Being an NBA GM is so easy.
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