Brooklyn Nets: Is Joe Johnson the biggest liability in the NBA?


With a contract sitting at over 25 million for this season, Joe Johnson is definitely not worth that kind of money. However, if we’re going to figure out how bad it really is, we need to compare it to contracts that other players like Johnson currently have.

Johnson has been awful this season. He has shot very poorly, and last night was no exception, as he made just 1 of 10 field goals against the Hawks. Johnson has been a waste of space on the court, and in due time, it is likely that we will see him riding the bench. Johnson’s field goal percentage is 28.3 percent, the lowest of any of the regular guys in the Nets’ rotation. He is truly awful.

When trying to figure out just how bad of a value Johnson is, we need to take a look at some of the players similar to him. One of the first guys that comes to mind is Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs. Leonard was originally known as a defensive stopper and shooter, but his game has developed into much more than that. He has incredible ball handling, good post moves, and he is a great rebounder. Because he plays the same position as Johnson, it is hard not to compare the two. As a younger player, Johnson also thrived in the post, and his handles were very good for a guy his size. However, Leonard has developed into more than Johnson ever did.

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Leonard’s contract for this season is 16 million dollars. He is currently signed for 5 years. If he picks up the final option on his contract in 2019-2020, he will be paid 21 million. That is 4 less million than the 34 year old Johnson is currently making. Leonard, unlike Johnson, is a smart investment with very little risk. Putting it in perspective, the Spurs are getting an perennial all star player in his prime, while the Nets traded for a declining player with a bloated contract.

November 4, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) shoots the basketball against Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick (4) during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Another person who comes to mind when comparing salaries is Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors. Even after developing into a star player, Thompson still signed to a fairly reasonable deal. In the last year of his contract, Thompson will make around 19 million. Thompson is not as good as Joe Johnson was in his prime, and Thompson definitely has a stronger team around him, but Thompson is still an invaluable part of the Warriors franchise. He is a terrific shooter who can score anywhere on the court, and the Warriors have him locked down for the next four seasons on a very team friendly deal.

One final player that could easily be compared to Joe Johnson is Bulls’ small forward Jimmy Butler. In the offseason, the Bulls managed to lock Butler down to a reasonable, team friendly deal, while still keeping him around for the next 5 years. Butler has become a star since earning himself a starting role, and he is an invaluable piece to a Bulls’ team looking to stay in contention. Butler will make just under 19 million in his final season, and during his prime, the Bulls will not have to spend ample amounts of money on him.

Looking at these other players, one thing becomes clear: Joe Johnson’s deal is one of the worst values in the league. A player who averages 8 points per game while shooting 28 percent from the field usually doesn’t even get a job in the D-league. When the season ends, the Nets will most certainly throw a pizza party to celebrate freedom from the nightmare that is Joe Johnson.

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