Joe Johnson scored six points Sunday against the Timberwolves, hitting two of his six shots. He did have six rebounds and six assists as well, but the 34-year-old is being paid --$25 million-- to score and he's not doing it. For the season, the seven-time all-star is averaging 10.8 points while shooting 35.5 percent overall and a mere 31.7 from three.
Is he finally worn down, after playing nearly 40,000 regular season minutes or is it something else. Andy Vasquez spoke to Johnson this weekend.
"Obviously, I can’t do a lot of the things that I used to," Johnson said but added that one of the problems is that he doesn't know what he'll be asked to do from game-to-game, a case of shooting rhythm rather than shooting slump. "My shots are limited to some extent," Johnson said. "Some nights I may get four, some nights I may get 14."
Also, he's asked to guard the other team's best player and as Vasquez notes, he's probably the team's best playmaker.
"It’s tough, man. I’m not going to sit here and [put up a] front. But I just try to find things that’s positive in it and just keep rolling."
The team's poor record makes everything worse, of course. And as a veteran, he has to try to lead in various ways.
"We have to, as players, sacrifice for one another to make the game easier," Johnson said. "We could all get into our modes of where we felt we haven’t had a shot in a while and jack one up, but it doesn’t necessarily help. So if we get good ball movement, set screens, get guys open, draw two people and if you are drawing a double team, kick the ball to the next guy. That’s what it’s about."
Will Johnson finish the season as a Net? It would be difficult to trade him. Brooklyn would have to take on multiple players, at least some of whom would certainly have contracts extending beyond this seaosn. That would cut into the Nets cap space, something they do not want to do. Once the deadline passes, could he get a "courtesy" buyout, permitting him to find a place on a contender? Don't bet against it.