An era ended in Brooklyn Thursday afternoon. Hours before a 116-106 win in Phoenix over the Suns, new general manager Sean Marks granted veteran forward Joe Johnson a buyout from his current contract.
By waiving Johnson prior to March 1, the Nets are allowing him to seek a deal with a contender. According to ESPN reports, some seven teams have already expressed interest in the former Net’s services. Among them are the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and Atlanta Hawks.
Johnson, a 7-time All-Star, was averaging 11.8 PPG, 4.1 APG, and 3.9 RPG for the now 16-42 Nets. For his career, Johnson has posted 17 PPG and just north of four assists and rebounds per contest.
“Thank you to all of the Brooklyn and New York Fans for your support during my time with the @BrooklynNets,” Johnson posted on Twitter. “I want to thank the Nets organization and I wish nothing but the best to the team. I am looking forward to the next chapter of my career and am excited to bring my talents to a new team.”
The second member of Brooklyn’s infamous backcourt made a name for himself as a clutch shooter, eclipsing many of the league’s best in the final 10 seconds of games. He has five buzzer-beating shots since his winner against the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 2, 2014. He’s made seven such shots in his last 10 seasons. Andre Iguodala and Monte Ellis rank are tied for second with four apiece.
Kevin Garnett once described Johnson as “Joe Jesus”, saying, “He may not be there when you call him but he’s there when you need him.”
Interim head coach Tony Brown has had nothing but praise for Johnson since taking over for Lionel Hollins. “Joe’s the ultimate professional,” Brown said. “He comes to work every day, gets his work in at practice. … I have no fault in Joe Johnson’s play. I think he’s playing great, he’s doing what I ask him to do, and he’s having an impact on the game.”
If Johnson opts to sign with the Cavaliers, he will face the Nets twice down the stretch. The Nets will venture to Cleveland once, and the Cavs will come to Barclays Center on March 24.
Nets extinguish Suns
Following news of Johnson’s release, the Nets won their first game on their circus road trip. Bojan Bogdanovic carried the load offensively, starting for the first time under Tony Brown in the 116-106 win. In place of Johnson, Bogdanovic poured in 24 points, while seven Nets scored in double-figures.
Former Net Mirza Teletovic scored a game-high 30 points, including five three-pointers.
The Suns have lost 28 of their last 30 games. The Nets will have seven games remaining on the road trip. Up next will be the Utah Jazz, who beat the Nets 108-86 at Barclays Center.