The Brooklyn Nets just missed out on a great opportunity to turn their team in a different direction. With Lance Stephenson packing his bags for the West Coast, Nets fans should be shaking their heads.
At the trade deadline, Brooklyn rejected an offer from Charlotte to ship Joe Johnson to the Hornets for Lance Stephenson, Gerald Henderson, and Marvin Williams. The Nets front office had second thoughts regarding Stephenson’s attitude problems in the locker room, believing it would make Brooklyn worse off, but what we did not know then was that the locker room in Brooklyn was already a mess.
Paul Pierce reported in April, almost two months after trade deadline, that Deron Williams was not a leader in the locker room like he assumed he was. He claimed that the “pressure got to him” and that he was more suited for a team in a smaller city, like where he started in Utah for the Jazz. Bringing in Stephenson would not solve the lack of leadership in the locker room, but neither does Joe Johnson, the asset Brooklyn would be trading away, which Pierce claims to be “quiet.” Paul Pierce’s sudden critique of the atmosphere in Brooklyn was a shock to some, but some forget about his nickname “the truth.”
Pierce did forget to mention one thing about Joe Johnson, though, he is overpaid, getting just under $25 million next year, which is the final year of his contract. At the wrong side of 30 years old, the Nets should invest in more money in youth to build around either one of their bigs, Brook Lopez or Mason Plumlee.
Players such as Bojan Bogdanovic and Markel Brown are not star players, but they contribute well without draining out Brooklyn’s budget. Gerald Henderson would have been a contributor from long range and along with Bogdanovic they could have spaced the floor beautifully for Lopez in the post. Marvin Williams also shoots about 36% from long distance and both he and Henderson played 80 games in the 2014-2015 season, showing that they are reliable player that are not injury prone.
The Nets could have acquired back court depth along with youth, which seem to be some of their bigger problems which they need to address before being able to get to a title contention level.
Now Nets fans shake their head as the hope of this deal happening in the offseason are now gone. Shedding Johnson’s salary will now be that much harder. However, that is not an urgent problem for the front office because his contract ends this year. The reason this would have been a great move was that it would have given Brooklyn a different lineup to experiment with, as it was obvious that they would not have a long playoff run anyway since they ended up placing in the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Now Brooklyn either waits for Johnson’s contract to finish up and burn out, which is more likely, or they can put him on the trading block and wait for another deal to arise which is more appealing to them.
While Brooklyn fans wait for that to be addressed we face new opportunities: trading Deron Williams. He has two years left on his contract, making $21 million this season and $22 million the next and it has already been confirmed that he will not be waived this summer.
There looks to be a pair of suitable homes for Williams in Texas, which is his home state, with both the Mavericks and Rockets looking for suitable point guards. With Rondo being a bust in Dallas and James Harden asking for more backcourt help there are two voids Williams can fill out west which can be mutually beneficial for both teams.
Nets fans now wait to see what Mikhail Prokhorov will do next, and what assets he will bring in for Lionel Hollins to push for deeper playoff runs and a more successful and youthful future.