Shooting guard Joe Johnson is headed to the Nets in a blockbuster six-player trade, league sources confirmed. The Nets will send Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Jordan Williams, DeShawn Stevenson and a 2013 first-round pick acquired from Houston to the Hawks. Stevenson is a free agent, so he'll go to Atlanta in a sign-and-trade.
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The deal was agreed upon in principle Monday and is not contingent upon Williams agreeing to re-sign with the Nets. It can't be official until the NBA moratorium is lifted July 11.
Johnson, 31, a five-time All-Star, has averaged 17.8 points in 11 seasons with the Celtics, Suns and Hawks. He has four years and more than $90 million left on his contract. There were reports of a snag in that the Hawks wanted second-year guard MarShon Brooks in the trade. The Nets resisted including him. But Atlanta wasn't going to let that hold up the deal, which will allow the Hawks to get Johnson's money off the books for five players whose contracts expire next summer.
The timing of the agreement coincided with the Nets' meeting with Williams on Monday. The free-agent point guard, who sat down with Dallas Mavericks officials earlier in the day, wants to play for a contender. The Nets still would have a ways to go, but this move definitely would improve their chances of making the playoffs.
They already have reached a four-year, $40-million agreement with small forward Gerald Wallace and are expected to re-sign Brook Lopez. They're also in pursuit of Jason Kidd, Bosnian forward Mirza Teletovic and several other free agents.
Acquiring Howard might make the Nets a championship contender, but it was looking increasingly clear that the Nets wouldn't be able to get Howard from Orlando, even after Magic general manager Rob Hennigan told reporters Monday that the All-Star center requested a change of address to Brooklyn.
However, early Tuesday, reports surfaced suggesting the Nets might be back in the running to acquire the All-Star center.
Williams has spoken to general manager Billy King about players he would like on his team. Johnson's name had to have come up for the Nets to so aggressively pursue a player who would seriously hamper their flexibility for the next four years.
Howard will become a free agent after the season, but it would be very difficult for the Nets to sign him unless they were able to make other moves. With Johnson, Williams, Lopez and Wallace, they would be well over the cap. Unless they somehow could clear cap room next summer, the only way they could get Howard then would be through a sign-and-trade.