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Trade Buzz: Are Clippers interested in Joe Johnson? Will Nets jeopardize 2016 cap space?

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

It's that time of year when GMs look at their roster --and their record-- and start making calls to improve the team, or if a team is a lost cause, start dumping contracts for the future.

Ric Bucher and Ken Berger talked and wrote Saturday about the Nets, with Bucher hinting, without details, that the Clippers could be interested in Joe Johnson and Berger saying no matter what the Nets do, they are unlikely to take on payroll that would cut into their cap space in 2016.

Bucher told a Bleacher Report panel that the Clippers need a wingman who take them to the next level, that Steve Ballmer didn't just pay $2 billion for the Clippers so he could have one of the better teams. Here's what he said about the possibility of Johnson to the Clippers...

"As good as J.J. Reddick, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes might be, they're not that good-to guy that a championship team needs, a guy like Joe Johnson who may just be available...

"To me, that means the Nets are not looking to improve, but simply looking to pare down that really fat player payroll that they have.  Now the question in getting Joe to the Clippers is that they have to trade and those contracts have to match and that's going to be a challenge to the Clippers. But I have no doubt that the Nets are looking to move some of these players and they're not all that worried about what they get back."

The problem there, of course, is that Johnson earns $23 million this season, and $25 million next season. A deal would likely need to involve a third or even fourth team to make salaries work.  The Clippers are unlikely to give up any of their top players, the ones with the big contracts.

Ken Berger, analyzing the NBA trade picture post-Rondo, looks at several scenarios on a team-by-team basis. He writes about the Suns' upcoming decision on Goran Dragic, the depth of the Pacers desire to reunite with Lance Stephenson and what's next for the Celtics.

Regarding the Nets, Berger said that while the Nets want to deal the Big Three, their top priority in any trade is not adding to their payroll in 2016, that they "won't jeopardize" their $50 million in cap space for "a short-term fix."

He also calibrates the Nets chances at moving the Big Three...

The Nets also are active in the trade market, but rival executives doubt they'll find a taker for Deron Williams, who has two years and $43 million left on his contract, or to a lesser extent, Joe Johnson, who has one year and $24.9 million left.

"Those contracts are hard to swallow," one exec said.

Brooklyn might have better luck unloading Brook Lopez on a rebuilding team willing to take a chance on the injury-prone center, who has one year and $16.8 million left. In any scenario, the Nets have indicated no willingness to take on contracts that go beyond next season, as they are positioned to have $50 million in cap room when the new TV deal kicks in and won't jeopardize it for a short-term fix, league sources say.