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Beware of the swap! How a provision in the 2012 Joe Johnson trade could hurt the Nets

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

As December dawns, the Nets are in ninth place in the East, barely behind the Pacers, but also three games behind the Hawks after 15 games.  If the two teams continue to play as they have so far, a little known provision in the Joe Johnson trade could derail the Nets limited chance at rebuilding.

Under terms of the deal, the Nets agreed to swap first round draft picks in 2014 and 2015. That was in addition to the Nets trading a first rounder they had gotten in the Terrence Williams trade and a second rounder in 2017. The Hawks traded the first rounder to Dallas who took Shane Larkin.

The swap provision for 2014 was never exercised because the Hawks had a higher pick and the Nets didnt have the pick anyway. It had been sent to Boston in the Paul Pierce - Kevin Garnett deal. So if the Nets had finished with a higher pick, the Celtics would have swapped it with Atlanta.

But with the Nets in disarray (we're being kind) and the Hawks improving, a swap in 2015 could add to the Nets misery. The pick to be swapped has no protection. So, if the Nets don't make the playoffs, and they move up in the lottery, the Hawks would get their pick and the Nets would get the Hawks pick (assuming Atlanta doesn't fall out of the playoffs.)  if for example the Nets won the overall No. 1 pick, they'd have to surrender it.

The swaps were not publicized when the Johnson trade went down in July 2012. It wasn't revealed for six months until January 2013, when NetsDaily posters saw the provision listed on RealGM and we confirmed it with a league source.

Why wasn't it revealed in either of the press releases put out by the Hawks or Nets? Because it wasn't considered significant enough. But now, no one is dismissing the significance.