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How The Joe Johnson Deal Works Financially

When the Nets agreed to acquire Joe Johnson from the Nets, the general perception was that Brooklyn's cap space allowed the team to absorb Johnson's mammoth contract. However, while the Nets' cap flexibility affords them the opportunity to make the deal, it actually appears that they won't be using any cap room in this trade or in any other moves this summer.

As I outlined when I previewed the Nets' offseason, even with only about $13MM in guaranteed salary on the books, Brooklyn's cap holds for free agents like Deron Williams, Kris Humphries, and Brook Lopez take the club well past the salary-cap line. To claim all that potential cap space, the Nets would have to renounce their rights to those free agents, which they've yet to do, and it doesn't appear they will.

Because they're still technically an over-the-cap team, the Nets had to meet salary-matching rules in the deal for Johnson. Based on the guidelines of the Traded Player Exception, we can work backwards from Johnson's $19,752,645 salary and determine that the Nets would need to come up with $14,752,645 in salary to send to Atlanta — that way they'd be absorbing no more than the outgoing salary + $5MM, which is the rule for any amount between $9.8MM and $19.6MM.

So how did that outgoing salary add up for Brooklyn? Let's take a look….

With those four players in the deal, the Nets are still a little short of the salary requirements, at $12,512,195. Enter DeShawn Stevenson. In order to make up the necessary difference, the Nets will include a sign-and-trade deal for the veteran wing. Stevenson would have needed to sign for a minimum of $2,240,450 to make the financial details work, so his reported agreement worth $2.3MM makes perfect sense.

While the Nets will view the trade as a simultaneous deal, for Atlanta it works as a non-simultaneous trade. From the Hawks' perspective, they're sending out Johnson's $19,752,645 salary and have one year to take back up to that amount. Farmar's, Morrow's, Petro's, and Stevenson's salaries all must be absorbed within that figure, but Williams' minimum-salary contract can be taken on using the minimum salary exception. When all is said and done, the Hawks should have a traded player exception worth $5,702,645 that they'll have a year to use.


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