The Brooklyn Nets have started buyout talks with veteran Joe Johnson, reports ESPN's Marc Stein.
Joe Johnson and the Brooklyn Nets have opened buyout negotiations, ESPN has learned— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 25, 2016
This is music to the ears of Celtics fans that are salivating over the lottery bound draft pick that Brooklyn will fork over to Boston this summer. Johnson may be a shell of his former self, but his 11.8 points per game is still the fourth highest average on the team. Brooklyn doesn't have the depth to replace Johnson's minutes with anyone remotely as talented, so cutting bait with him now can only make the team worse in the short-term.
Brooklyn's .263 winning percentage is ahead of only the lowly Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference and is the fourth worst mark in the league. It's doubtful that anyone will fall behind Philly, while a Los Angeles Lakers team that is 6 games back of the Nets in the loss column will be difficult to catch. However, losing Johnson could be the difference between whether or not they finish behind the sinking Suns, who currently have one more loss than the Nets.
A Johnson buyout has the potential to come with an added bonus for Boston, as they are rumored to be among the teams in the playoff hunt that would peruse him if he becomes available.
Sources tell ESPN several playoff teams (Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Houston, Miami, OKC and Toronto) are already in pursuit of Joe Johnson— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 25, 2016
Boston has an open roster spot after completing their own buyout negotiations with David Lee, so they will be keeping a sharp eye on the buyout market for veterans that could become available for the stretch run.
While Johnson may be well past his prime, he remains a savvy veteran that could help a playoff team in a supporting role. The Celtics desperately need to add more shooting, so Johnson's 37.1 percent accuracy from behind the arc should be appealing to them. While his overall scoring has dipped this season, he does have 7 games this season where he scored 20+ points, including a season-high 27 points earlier this month.
Boston currently clings to the No. 3 seed in the East, a vital position as it would allow them to avoid the Cleveland Cavaliers until the Conference Finals. Johnson would add another scoring weapon that would help the C's maintain that spot, with the added luxury of watching the Nets sink even lower.