EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Joe Johnson is having one of the most miserable seasons of his 15-year career, but the seven-time All-Star has not and will not ask the Nets to trade him, he said yesterday.
“I’m a professional, man. Obviously, this late in my career, this isn’t the ideal situation,’’ he said, referring to the Nets’ 12-37 record. “But I’m not forcing anything. I haven’t [gone] to management, asked for anything. I come to work day in and day out, compete and have fun. That’s what it’s about. Whatever happens, happens.’’
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Johnson, who was mentioned in trade rumors last season, said he hasn’t heard any such chatter this season. The Nets don’t have a general manager at present, with former GM Billy King having been demoted and reassigned within the organization last month. Assistant GM Frank Zanin would be in charge of making trades.
Johnson, though, is making $24.9 million in the final year of a six-year contract he signed with the Atlanta Hawks in 2010, and would be difficult, if not impossible, to trade by the NBA’s Feb. 18 deadline anyway.
Even if he isn’t traded, though, Johnson could get bought out by the Nets, which would make him a free agent. As long as he signed with a team by March 1, he’d be eligible to play for that team in the playoffs. He wasn’t quite as direct responding to the question of whether he’d like to get bought out by the Nets.
“Man, honestly, I don’t even know,’’ he said. “My agent [Jeff Schwartz] was here last night, and me and him are supposed to sit down and talk within the next week or so. So I’m sure — whether or not it comes up, I don’t know — but we’ll talk.’’
Johnson, 34, is averaging 11.3 points per game, his lowest scoring average since his second year in the league. He’s also shooting just 39 percent from the floor, which is the lowest field-goal percentage of his career. Over his career, he is averaging 17.0 points per game, and he’s a .441 shooter from the field and a .370 shooter from three-point range. Johnson is playing a team-high 34.2 minutes per game.
If the Nets don’t trade Johnson or buy him out, he would become a free agent July 1. He said he only wants to play “probably just another two, maybe three years, that’s it,’’ and said the potential for winning is what will determine with whom he signs his next contract.
“I just want a winning situation,’’ Johnson said. “It’s not going to be to no highest bidder, or nothing like that. I just want to make sure the situation’s right for me.’’
Notes & quotes: Rookie forward Chris McCullough, who has missed the entire season recovering from a knee injury, has been practicing and will be activated for Friday’s and Saturday’s games against the Sacramento Kings and Philadelphia 76ers, respectively. He is not expected to play, but the team hopes he will get into games next week, before the All-Star break.