The Brooklyn Nets announced on Thursday afternoon that they have requested waivers on guard Joe Johnson.
Nets General Manager Sean Marks said in a statement, “The Nets want to thank Joe for his many contributions to the team and the organization,” said Marks. “Joe has been a quality professional since joining the Nets four years ago, was a valued member of three playoff teams, and provided many thrilling moments for his teammates and Nets’ fans. We wish him much success in the future.”
In three and a half seasons with Brooklyn, Johnson played in 288 games for the Nets, with averages of 14.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. The seven-time NBA All-Star is a veteran of 15 NBA seasons, having played with Boston, Phoenix and Atlanta, prior to his stint in Brooklyn. He holds career NBA averages of 17.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.
This is Marks’ second big move as Nets GM, with the first coming last Saturday when he released Andrea Bargnani. The Nets roster now stands at 13 players.
If the Nets had a General Manager in place for a week or so before the deadline, which was on the 18th, the day Marks was hired, maybe they could have traded Johnson to a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers for a much-needed draft pick.
The decision to fire Billy King on January 10, about six weeks ahead of the deadline, may not have been the best idea King should have served out the season and maybe he could have made some moves to clean up this roster beyond buying out Bargnani and Johnson.
The Nets acquired Johnson from Atlanta in the summer of 2012 as they were about to embark on their move to Brooklyn. At that time, they were getting arguably the most clutch player in the NBA.
Johnson lived up to such nicknames as Joe Jesus the first couple of years in Brooklyn, with numerous game winners. The most famous ones were on December 14, 2012, which Ian Eagle called “It was real and it was spectacular” in ode to Jerry Seinfeld, who was at the Barclays Center that night.
The following season, with the Nets floundering at 10-21, he hjt a game-winner in Oklahoma City on January 2, 2014 that propelled the Nets to a big second-half run to the playoffs.
Johnson’s last buzzer-beater as a Net came on February 8 at Barclays Center against Denver.
That is the lasting image people will have of Johnson, the thrill he gave winning those games. Aside from those moments, the verdict on how successful his three-plus years in Brooklyn were is unclear.
Johnson averaged 16.3 points-per-game in 2012-13, and 15.8 the following year. A lot of his points came in the fourth quarter, to the point the Nets expected him to deliver down the stretch.
Last season, it was obvious that he was not as quick and had lost a lot of explosiveness on his three-point shot, shooting just 36 percent from behind the arc.
This season, the 34-year old Johnson was one of the Nets’ biggest disappointments, just as they needed him to step up more than ever.
Early in the season, the only other real scoring options the Nets had were Johnson, Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young, and Jarrett Jack.
If Johnson were more like his old self, the Nets might have pulled out a few of the numerous games that went to the final minute in November and December.
Part of the reason Johnson didn’t do well was that his role in the offense changed. He was being asked to do too much, as he has had to take on a role orchestrating the offense instead of just getting open in the corner and draining a three.
Johnson is averaging just 11.8 points per game this season, a far cry form his career average of 17.1 PPG.
Johnson probably will be picked up by a contender like Cleveland, who needs a long-range shooter off the bench, or playoff teams like the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics.