Orlando Magic superstar center Dwight Howard has officially asked his club to trade him to the Brooklyn Nets, but it now appears that Brooklyn won’t have the cap room or assets for Howard after reportedly acquiring All-Star guard Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks.
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Frankly, Brooklyn only sent a bunch of junk to Atlanta for Johnson: The Nets will send DeShawn Stevenson and the expiring contracts of Jordan Williams, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar and Anthony Morrow. Stevenson, a free agent, would go to Atlanta via a sign-and-trade deal, and the Hawks would also receive a first-round pick (via Houston) that is lottery-protected in 2013. The trade can’t be finalized until July 11, when the free-agent moratorium ends.
It’s just a no-brainer deal for New Jersey as it managed to keep rising guard MarShon Brooks out of the trade as well as retain its own first-round pick in 2013. The Nets are no doubt hoping that landing Johnson will convince All-Star point guard Deron Williams to re-sign. Williams, an unrestricted free agent, will either do so or go to Dallas, where he is from. ESPN.com reported Sunday that finalizing any deal for Johnson upon Williams telling the Nets that he plans to re-sign with them July 11. Williams apparently will decide by Wednesday.
As for Atlanta, it gets out of the remaining four years and $89 million left on Johnson’s contract. He’s a good player, averaging 18.8 points a season ago, but isn’t a franchise player (like Howard) and that contract is absurd. New GM Danny Ferry can now start to rebuild the Hawks after shedding the richest contract in the entire NBA, worth $126 million when Johnson signed it in the summer of 2010.
Ferry also pulled off another trade Monday, sending the big contract of Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz for point guard Devin Harris. Utah had acquired Harris in a package from the Nets for Williams in the 2010-11 season. The Hawks could now be in position to clear roughly $20 million in salary-cap space after the 2012-13 season. Chris Paul and Howard are among the star players eligible to become free agents next summer – Howard is from Atlanta.