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Johnson (and Bargnani) buyouts first on Marks agenda?

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There was more speculation Friday on whether Joe Johnson wants out, wants an extension, or just wants to play out the season as a Brooklyn Net.

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Chris Haynes suggested that if --and so far, no one's saying if it's the case-- Johnson wants out of his $24.9 million contract, the Cleveland Cavaliers would be his first choice.

Should Johnson, 34, obtain a buyout of his $25 million salary for the season, Cleveland would be his next destination, sources with knowledge of the dialogue insist to cleveland.com.

Brooklyn is aware of the ballpark figure it would take for Johnson to agree to a buyout, a source said. The way sources characterize the situation, Brooklyn has to decide whether they want to help the Cavaliers, or allow Johnson to play out his contract as is.

How much is Joe owed? A lot, approximately $8 million more this season. Buyouts usually provide a team with salary relief. The percentage varies but 2/3rds to 3/4ers is the standard. Assume 70 percent of the season total --$24.9 million-- and that would be about what he's been paid already, around $17 million. But his agent, Jeff Schwartz, would obviously want more. That's the "ball park figure" Haynes talks about.  It's a test for Sean Marks.  He would want to pay out as little as possible beyond what Johnson's already been paid.  And he does have the leverage. If Johnson is still on the Nets roster on March 1, he can't be added to a playoff roster.

What would the advantage be for the Nets?  They are perilously close to the luxury tax threshold --about $1.4 million. If they can dump most of Johnson's salary, they could, in theory, use either the Jarrett Jack DPE of $3.15 million or the remainder of the MLE, about $2.4 million to sign someone without hitting the threshold.  Is there someone out there worth that kind of money?  If other players are bought out, would they be worth it?

Also, there were reports earlier this week, also out of Cleveland, about Johnson wanting to stay in Brooklyn and even wanting an extension. He's not saying anything about either possibility.

Meanwhile, there's nothing new to report on rumors that Bargnani will be bought out.  He has a second year player option which will complicate things.  He did not play vs. the Knicks, out with an "illness."  If the Nets are indeed working a deal with him, it's better he not play, in order to preserve the possibility that he can sign with another club. That's not a charitable consideration. Every dollar Bargnani earns from another team drops the Nets liability by a dollar.