The Brooklyn Nets are off to an 8-11 start this season, which is a far cry from title contention — a supposed goal when owner Mikhail Prokhorov moved the team to Brooklyn. They’re still in better shape than last season’s calamitous 10-21 start under now-departed coach Jason Kidd — who is working wonders in Milwaukee. Despite a better opening to the season, sources tell ESPN.com the Nets have made stars Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson available in trade talks, as an attempt to retool, but without sacrificing wins.
Last year’s team was one of the best in the NBA during the second half of the season, and they even upset Toronto in seven games to move on to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. But after losing Paul Pierce to the Wizards this offseason, and with Kevin Garnett likely to retire when his deal lapses this summer, the Nets are hoping to revamp an expensive lineup that hasn’t shown much prowess so far.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ohm Youngmisuk report:
The Brooklyn Nets have begun reaching out to teams to let them know that former All-Stars Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson are available via trade, ESPN.com has learned.
League sources told ESPN.com that the Nets, off to a disappointing 8-11 start and looking to retool after last season’s $190 million roster filled with veterans couldn’t advance beyond the second round of the playoffs, have let it be known that they are prepared to move any of those franchise cornerstones in what would likely be separate deals if they came to fruition because of the high salaries each possess.
Sources say no trade is imminent involving any of the three players.
This isn’t really breaking news when you take into account how much each member of that triumvirate is owed this season and next. The possibility of dealing all three in the same deal is almost zero.
According to ESPN, Nets GM Billy King was noncommittal when asked on Dec. 1 if the three stars could win together, answering with an opaque, “We’ll see.
“We’re on the phones, we’re talking to people, but there’s nothing imminent,” King continued when he was asked if any personnel moves might happen.
Part of the problem lies in the insane amount of money all three players are owed over the next two seasons. Collectively, the Nets’ payroll is near $94 million, with only the Knicks — at $89.5 million — even approaching the figure, despite Brooklyn slashing some of their record payroll over the summer (ahh, New York, land of the overpaid and underperforming NBA team). The next highest team payroll is the Clippers at $80.5 million.
Deron is owed around $19.8 million this year and over $21 million next season with a 15 percent trade kicker if Brooklyn actually finds a buyer. Brook is owed $15.7 million this year and has a player option for $16.7 million next season, which he’d be a fool not to pick up after so many foot injuries. He’s also got a 15 percent trade kicker.
Joe Johnson makes close to $23.2 million this season and will make nearly $24.9 million next year.
Who takes any of those contracts? Seriously, who? That’s what Billy King is wondering right now, and that’s why this isn’t really news. The Nets are in the mid-tier of the LEastern Conference with a payroll that approaches the cap with just those three players alone. We doubt any GM worth his salt would pull the trigger on any of these guys until next season when all of them becoming expiring.
Which of the three stars will be the easiest for Brooklyn to unload?
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