3:39pm: Brooklyn has been “very active” in making calls, an executive from an opposing team tells Fred Kerber of the New York Post, adding that he thinks Brooklyn is ready to make a move but that he hasn’t heard that the Nets are close to any deals. Kerber passed along the exec’s remarks within a story on Williams, Lopez and Johnson, so presumably that exec was talking about the team’s calls about those three players and not Andrei Kirilenko, who’s reportedly the subject of renewed chatter with the Sixers.
3:20pm: The Nets are initiating talks with teams about the trio as well as listening when other teams bring them up, Wallach hears (Twitter link).
2:22pm: It isn’t really a new development that the Nets are making Williams, Lopez and Johnson available, a source with ties to the Nets tells Reed Wallach of Nets Daily (Twitter link). Brooklyn has been hard at work seeking a defensive-minded wing player for some time, USA Today’s Sam Amick reports (on Twitter), though it’s unclear if that pursuit is related to the Williams-Lopez-Johnson talks.
1:29pm: The Nets have had “exploratory” conversations with multiple teams about the highly paid triumvirate, though they aren’t merely looking to dump salary and want to remain a playoff team whether or not they make any moves, Stein and Youngmisuk write in a full story. It’s unclear whether Brooklyn would insist on a talent upgrade or whether the team is looking for a lateral move in that regard that would still allow it to cut costs. The Nets would have a tough time unloading any more than one of Williams, Lopez and Johnson in a single deal, given their hefty salaries, so if two or more of them leave Brooklyn, it would likely happen via separate transactions, according to the ESPN scribes.
1:15pm: The Nets are making Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson available in trade talk, report Marc Stein and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com (Twitter link). It’s unclear which teams the Nets have spoken to or just how aggressively Nets GM Billy King is looking for deals. King said recently that he was considering “tweaks” to the roster, but he offered only a “We’ll see” when asked about the long-term viability of the Williams-Lopez-Johnson core.
A report from Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck in May indicated that the Nets wouldn’t rule out the idea of trading Williams, who’s making more than $19.754MM this season. Chris Broussard of ESPN.com reported in June that Brooklyn would be more open to trading Williams than Johnson if the Nets could somehow have wedged their way into last summer’s LeBron James sweepstakes. Johnson is on the books this year at nearly $23.181MM, a team high. Still, there were no reports suggesting the Nets were in talks about Williams, much less Johnson or Lopez. Williams and Lopez have 15% trade kickers on their respective deals that the Nets would be responsible for paying should they trade them, but there’s no such clause in Johnson’s contract.
The trio, Brooklyn’s three highest paid players, makes more than $58.654MM combined this season, and each is under contract for 2015/16 at even more than he’s making this year, though Lopez holds a player option. The Nets are just 8-11 and in eighth place in the Eastern Conference after Monday’s blowout loss to the Cavs, and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov vowed this past summer to cut spending so that the team dodges the luxury tax in 2015/16. The Nets already have more than $76.756MM in guaranteed salary and player options on their books for next season, close to this year’s $76.829MM tax threshold, though the tax line is expected to increase by several million dollars for 2015/16.