Joe Johnson said today that he doesn’t know whether he’ll ask for a buyout from the Nets but added that he plans to talk with his agent in the next week, notes Andy Vasquez of The Record (Twitter links). The new Jeff Schwartz client said when reports asked whether he would request a trade that his situation isn’t ideal but that he’s not “forcing anything,” according to Vasquez. Johnson is pulling in the league’s second-largest salary this season, nearly $24.895MM, making any trade cumbersome to pull off, but the prospect of a buyout has been the subject of frequent speculation. However, no indication existed at the time of the team’s coaching change last month that the 34-year-old wanted a buyout, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported.
Such a move would entail Johnson giving up a portion of his salary, so he has financial incentive to stay put even though he said in December that he’ll prioritize winning when he next becomes a free agent, which is currently slated to happen at season’s end. The 15th-year veteran reiterated today that he plans to look for a winner in free agency and added that he wants to play two or three more seasons after this one, Vasquez relays (Twitter links).
“A winning situation. It’s not going to be to no highest bidder or nothing like that, I just want to make sure the situation’s right for me,” Johnson said.
Still, the swingman didn’t rule out the possibility that he’d re-sign with the Nets, according to Vasquez (on Twitter). Johnson expressed confusion in September about why Deron Williams bought his way off the Nets this past summer, saying, “It’s not that bad here.” That was before the Nets embarked on what’s been a miserable 2015/16 season so far, as the team is 12-37 so far and without its first-round picks for 2016 or 2018. Brooklyn made the playoffs in all three of the previous seasons that Johnson was a part of the team.
It would be difficult for the Nets to negotiate a buyout at this point, since they don’t have a GM, as Vasquez points out (Twitter link). Assistant GM Frank Zanin is running the front office while the Nets conduct a search, reportedly with the hopes of making a hire before the February 18th trade deadline. Johnson and the team essentially have until March 1st to negotiate a buyout, since that’s the last day that a player can be waived and be eligible to take part in the postseason with another team.
Should Johnson push for a buyout or stay put, collect his checks, and wait to hit free agency in the summer? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.