SALT LAKE CITY - If this keeps up, Mikhail Prokhorov is going to need to order a few more checks.
The Nets added to their record payroll and luxury tax Wednesday, acquiring guard Marcus Thornton from the Kings in exchange for Jason Terry and Reggie Evans. It's yet another move for a team that's loaded up to go for the gusto this season, pushing their price tag in combined salary and taxes to north of $190 million.
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The deal opens a roster spot and Jason Kidd hinted that the Nets, who still were reportedly chasing a deal for the Lakers' Jordan Hill, might have another move up their sleeve despite the tax threshold they're facing.
"I think we were way above it before it started," the Nets coach said before their 105-99 win over the Jazz at Energy Solutions Arena. "So our owner is about trying to get the team going in the right direction with different pieces, and he's probably not done. So we'll see what happens."
At least when Thornton joins the team within the next day or two, his teammates will be in a much better mood than they would've been if they lost to the Jazz (19-34), who were playing without Derrick Favors. The Nets (25-27) stormed back from a 13-point deficit thanks to an impressive 18-4 run in the third quarter. They outscored Utah 27-18 in the quarter, assisting on 10 of their 11 field goals.
Joe Johnson looked as if his right knee tendinitis finally calmed down, pumping in 27 points and tying his season high in assists with six. It's the first time Johnson topped 20 points since a Jan. 20 win over the Knicks.
Andray Blatche added a season-high 25 points and Deron Williams had 19 points seven assists and four rebounds, earning his first win in three tries in Utah against his old team.
But the real news on this day took place hours earlier.
Thornton, 26, who is earning $8.05 million this season and will make $8.575 million next season, began the season as a starter and fell out of favor in Sacramento. He averaged only 8.3 points despite being the second-highest paid player on the team, and the Nets are hoping he'll give them some scoring punch off the bench.
Thornton is expected to join the team within the next day or two as the Nets, who are 1-1 on their seven-game trip, continue their West Coast swing against the Warriors Saturday night.
"He's a young player that can definitely put the ball in the basket," Kidd said. "So we are happy to have him on board."
Terry, who has one year left on the three-year deal he inked in Boston, averaged a career-low 4.5 points this season with the Nets. Evans was never a consistent part of the rotation under Kidd, averaging five rebounds in just 30 games after playing an integral role last season.
Evans, a burly rebounding machine, helped improve Brook Lopez's work ethic immensely and underscored the importance of consistently hitting the weight room. Lopez wound up turning in his first All-Star season in 2012-13 playing alongside Evans, who averaged 11.1 rebounds and started 56 games.
Kevin Garnett wasn’t pleased with the deal, reiterating what he said in the preseason: he made the trek to Brooklyn in part so he could play with Evans.
“It’s just tough overall,” Garnett said. “One of the reasons I came here was because of Reggie and to be able to play alongside him. I played with 'Jet' for a while. It just saddens me, but it is a business and you have to emotionally take your feelings out of it."
Seeing Terry get shipped off hit rookie Mason Plumlee hard. Terry took Plumlee under his wing and the two quickly formed a special bond. Their lockers were next to each other, but they weren't just neighbors there. They lived in the same New Jersey apartment building.
"It's like really my first trade since I've been in the league," Plumlee said. "But like everybody says, it's part of it. Hopefully it's good for them and obviously we think it's good for us. Jason Terry, he was my neighbor. He lived right above me and we spent a lot of time together." "He was one of the coolest vets we had, honestly. He went out of his way multiple times to help me out with things, take care of me. So, it doesn't go forgotten."