With Joe Johnson refusing to be bought out of his hefty contract with the Brooklyn Nets, it appears as if Cleveland Cavaliers are ready to make a push at the veteran swingman, according to NBA Trade Rumors.
Prior to the start of the season, Johnson was strongly linked with the reigning Eastern Conference champions. However, reports of Cavs fearing a burgeoning luxury tax bill had halted those rumors.
Johnson stands to earn close to $25 million this season. However, Cavs have a trade exception in excess of $14 million after offloading the contracts of Brendon Haywood ($10.5 million), Mike Miller ($2.8 million) and Joe Harris ($845,000) during the off-season. Even if Cavs were to acquire Johnson, they wouldn’t have to bear his entire salary.
Cavaliers still have one roster spot open. But to make this trade work, they will have to package Anderson Varejao and Mo Williams (or Timofey Mozgov) since they already have a sizable trade exception. Yahoo Sports confirmed earlier on Monday that “If bought out, Johnson will have a list of championship-level teams vying for his services.”
The Nets (12-37) are out of the playoff race and would be better off trading Johnson – who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. However, they would prefer the services of younger players than the likes of Varejao and Williams – who are in the twilight of their careers.
During the off-season, Brooklyn bought out Deron Williams’ contract, allowing the point guard to join the Dallas Mavericks. If Johnson continues to refuse the buyout, the veteran would be traded before the February 18 deadline.
Johnson, 35, is expected to become a veteran role player for a championship contender starting next season. But that journey could begin as early as this month.
Johnson is justified for refusing to be bought out. Remember, he stands to make close to $25 million only by playing through the next 3-4 months. But if Johnson has immediate championship aspirations, he could ask Brooklyn to process the formalities.
The forward/guard is averaging 11.5 points, 3.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds this season. But he could bring veteran leadership and clutch scoring to a Cavaliers team desperate to add enough weapons before a possible showdown against Golden State Warriors or San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.
Stay tuned for more NBA Trade Rumors.