In the last 48 hours, Billy King has committed $129.3 million of Mikhail Prokhorov's fortune to two contracts. At the rate Forbes reports he's going, it will take the Russian billionaire till the end of the week to make it up.
Yes, that's simplistic and yes, there are the CBA rules, but the Nets --pushed by Prokhorov-- have decided that Naismith's Rules of Basketball, the ones that award points for baskets outweigh the arcane ones NBA lawyers put together back in December. Besides, those who dismiss the importance of wealth and market size weren't paying attention during the lockout. Money and the willingness to use it count. You may not be able to "buy" a championship the way Prokhorov did (twice) in the Euroleague, but the Russian oligarch made it clear this weekend he's willing to spend money to make good on his promise of a championship for Brooklyn fans by 2015.
After the break, an analysis of what the Nets gained and lost and also, what's left.
- Nets add Johnson as lure for Williams - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Nets will be interesting no matter what now that they've got Johnson - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
Brooklyn finalizing Joe Johnson trade with Hawks - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Nets and Hawks general managers trade for very different reasons - Eric Freeman - Ball Don't Lie
Nets, Hawks look like winners after trade, while Dwight Howard's left holding the bag - Ken Berger - CBS Sports
- Joe Johnson traded to Nets: How does the Nets' new Big 3 stack up? - Matt Moore - CBS Sports
- The multiple meanings of Joe Johnson and the Brooklyn Nets - Devin Kharpterian - Nets Are Scorching
- Joe Johnson and exorcising demons - Devin Kharpterian - Nets Are Scorching
Nets looking at Big Three of D-Will, Dwight and Joe Johnson - Chris Sheridan - Sheridan Hoops
--Joe Johnson, a 6'8" shooting guard whose been selected to six straight all-Star games, the last six, and named All-NBA once, in 2010. He is the quintessential scorer, a player whose talents permit him to quietly take over games without much flair. He has a solid jump shot and has an underappreciated post game. He is also unerringly consistent, with all his numbers in a steady, narrow range. He's missed 25 games in five years. Five times in his career, he's played in every game, and averaged 38 minutes a game over those six all-star season. He's unspectacular, quiet, but effective, particularly in the clutch. He is in fact one of the game's great clutch performers.
Yes, he is owed $89.3 million over the next four years, a long time, and will be 35 when the contract ends, at which point he will be paid nearly $25 million. Ray Allen was 35 last year. The Nets basketball people think he will still be an effective scorer by then. If his contract was more reasonable, less Kobe-like, he would be seen differently ... and he wouldn't have just been traded in a monster salary dump.
One thing he is not is a leader, a role he was forced into in Atlanta. Moving to Brooklyn will relieve him of that burden. Deron Williams will be the leader as long as he signs and he's expected to. Jason Kidd may join D-Will. He's simply too quiet for that role. Johnson also has played with a strong point guard during his time in Atlanta, running with the likes of Mike Bibby, Jeff Teague, Tyronn Lue and Speedy Claxton.
Five players, four with expiring deals and one a sign-and-trade for convenience sake.
--Anthony Morrow, a 6'5" shooting guard who has one of the highest three point shooting percentages in NBA history, but those numbers have gone down in every year of his career, steadily declining from a league leading 46.7% in 2008-09 to 37.1% this season. Similarly, his overall shooting percentage has dropped. Like most three point specialists, he is prone to wild swings in consistency. The rest of his game, which he worked hard at, never developed the way the Nets had hoped, particularly his defense. He could also be fragile, missing 26 games his first year.
--Jordan Farmar, a 6'3" point guard. A solid performer with the Lakers where he won two rings, he had his moments, like his ringing three pointer vs. the Clippers at Prudential Center. He also dramatically improved his three point shooting, becoming the team's top long distance hitter, with a 44% mark. At times, he looked like a capable back-up point guard, but at others he played out of control on offense and less than adequately on defense. A number of his coaches were not fans. One Nets exec called him "a know-it-all." He agreed to opt-in to the last year of his contract over the weekend so they could include him in the deal with an agreement to buy him out, for a reported $1.5 million.
--Johan Petro, 7'0" center. A disaster. Paid $10.25 million over three, he was worth about a third to half that number. He had some moments and his jumper from the top of the key was at times Mikki Moore-like but his basketball IQ was among the lowest. He became a target of the boo-birds and he admitted it affected him. It should have.
--Jordan Williams, 6'10" power forward. Came out of Maryland too early. Arrived at Nets training camp unprepared and was quickly outplayed by camp invites like Dennis Horner. He became dehydrated and wound up first sick and then in Avery Johnson's dog house. To his credit, he worked hard, saw his time at Springfield as an opportunity rather than a demotion. At season's end, he looked like he could be a good rebounder, but no one thought he could be a consistent starter in the NBA.
--DeShawn Stevenson, 6'7" small forward. After a starring role in the NBA Finals in 2011, he arrived in New Jersey out of shape following the lockout. He never got untracked and until Billy King first signed Gerald Green and then traded for Gerald Wallace, he was statistically the worst offensive player in the NBA. He played some nice defense and served as a role model for Marshon Brooks, but he looked done. Still, King was able to get the Hawks to give him a three-year sign-and-trade deal starting at a reported $2.3 million a year...with only the first year guaranteed. He wanted to come back, but that was questionable. He's happy. The Nets are happy. By including Stevenson, the Nets got the MLE and BAE. Nice.
--The 2013 Rockets (lottery protected) first round pick. If the Rockets hadn't lost eight of nine games near the end of the season, the Nets wouldn't have had this pick to offer the Hawks. The pick is lottery protected (1-14) through 2016. That means the pick rolls over each year through 2016. If the Rockets finish in the lottery in any of those years, the Hawks get it. But if in 2017, if the protections have prevented the Hawks from using it, it becomes a second round pick and the Hawks would receive an unspecified amount of cash from the Rockets. Judging by what's going in Houston, that pick may not be available next season either.
In many ways, this is more important what the Nets gave up. Team officials will proudly enumerate what they retain after this deal goes down on July 11.
--As a result of the trade, the Nets are now eligible for the full $5 million mid-level exception (which they reportedly will use to sign Bosnian forward Mirza Teletovic) and the $1.95 million bi-annual exception.Without that onerous Johnson contract, the Nets would have been stuck with the $2.5 million "room exception."
--All their own first rounders from 2013 through 2018. The Hawks wanted the Nets pick instead of the Rockets lottery protected pick in 2013. The Nets refused and the Hawks relented.
--All of their $3.0 million in cash considerations for this season. They can now use that money to facilitate other trades or purchase draft picks next June (as they have done three times in two years under King).
--Draft rights to two top European players, Bojan Bogdanovic and Toko Shenghelia. Bogdanovic in fact may come to the NBA earlier than expected. The Nets are high on the 23-year-old whose game resembles Johnson's.
--Kris Humphries Bird Rights, which can be used to work a sign-and-trade or retain him, which Nets are indeed considering.
--They also retain two trade exceptions worth $3.0 million and $1.30 million, acquired in the Gerald Wallace trade, which at the end of the free agency process can to used to grab a moderately priced role player.
--Marshon Brooks and Gerald Green. The Hawks first wanted Brooks included in the deal. It was the main hold-up after the first talks took place last week. As in the case of the draft picks, the Hawks wanted Brooks. The Nets said no. The Hawks relented. ESPN reported that at one point in the negotiations, Green was going to be signed-and-traded rather than Stevenson. For some reason, the Hawks relented again. (It's not as if the Hawks had a lot of suitors for Johnson.)
The Nets should have (as long as Williams decides to stay) one of the best backcourts in the NBA. Both were all-Stars last year and All-NBA two years ago. Their presence should make Brook Lopez a lot more effective and permit him more independence in the post and on the perimeter...and vice versa. By retaining Brooks and (hopefully) re-signing Green, their perimeter rotation is as good as it's been since Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter roamed the IZOD.
Yes, they have sign players, starting with Williams and Lopez; and use their cap space wisely, fill out their roster. Even with Williams, Lopez and Green re-signed, the Nets will have only five players under contract: those three, Johnson, Brooks and draft pick Tyshawn Taylor. Teletovic would make seven. Kidd is likely to be added as well. His salary may be higher than expected, but the Nets see it as marketing cost: bringing back The Captain for his last drive. That still leaves a LOT of roster spots.
They could have waited until Deron Williams committed. They could have thrown money at O.J. Mayo who does have the scoring chops, but let's face it, the Grizzlies dumped him for nothing. Johnson, as Devin Kharpterian of Nets Are Scorching wrote Monday, shouldn't be defined by his contract. He, like Gerald Wallace, is a very, very good basketball player.
Those who think the Nets hamstrung themselves in the future or that Danny Ferry outsmarted his Duke teammate should understand both did well. King is going into Brooklyn with a competitive, attractive team. The front office have long been haunted by the prospect of what the Mets experienced two years ago when they strode into a beautiful new stadium with a mediocre team. The first image of CitiField was empty seats. This should help them avoid that.
As for the Dwightmare, note that there are ways, if the Magic change their mind and call King, to do that deal, too. Maybe not tomorrow but soon. It does seem like the Nets have a plan.