The Brooklyn Nets are in an impossible spot right now, without any present-term success or immediate future prospects for improvement. Still, owner Mikhail Prokhorov is desperate to do something, anything that could possibly jump-start his team. So off go head coach Lionel Hollins and GM Billy King.
The next logical move, many thought, was to buy out the contract of Joe Johnson, a veteran who’s made tons of money and is on the last year of his gigantic $25 million-per-yer deal. The move would free up meaningful cap space for future moves, and Johnson, the theory went, would be open to it. He’d be happy to take less money and a reduced role to get the chance to play for a contender in search of veteran leadership. Except according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, he isn’t happy to do that.
So if Johnson had previously said he doesn’t care about making more money, why won’t he let the Nets buy out his contract (if indeed they’d want to)? Possibly, because when he responded to Deron Williams’ buyout with, “it’s not that bad here,” he really meant it.
You could be forgiven if you mistook Johnson’s cool demeanor for a lack of passion for victory, but from firsthand accounts, he’s just a laid-back guy. And in this situation, while the allure of going for victory is powerful to many, maybe Joe’s just kind of comfortable where he is. Brooklyn’s a cool place and he can just about afford the rent. Can you really blame him?