NBA Free Agency 2012: What Does Joe Johnson Deal Mean for Nets, Dwight Howard?
With the somewhat surprising development that the Brooklyn Nets are going ahead with a proposed trade for Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson, regardless of what Deron Williams' final decision is (news via Chris Broussard and Marc Stein of ESPN), we are now left with another set of intriguing questions to answer.
Would a duo of Johnson and Williams, with whatever supporting pieces are put in place around them, be enough to contend for a top playoff spot?
Is there any way for the Nets to still try and acquire Dwight Howard?
What are Dwight's options if, in fact, the door to Brooklyn has suddenly slammed shut?
In terms of what the Nets have right now, and assuming they can finalize a deal with Deron Williams, they look like an immediate playoff team—but still a move or two shy of the upper echelon that they are hoping to get to.
A starting five of Williams, Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez and someone else—maybe MarShon Brooks if Johnson can slide to the small forward slot—is a pretty good one, but that leaves an empty bench without much to fill it with.
Johnson and Wallace will earn approximately $130 million over the next four years between the two of them. Add in whatever max deal Williams will get, and the Nets really don't have much to work with.
Which brings us to the next question: can they still find a way to trade for Howard?
Chris Broussard of ESPN.com is reporting that the door is essentially closed for him going to Brooklyn, and that the Nets are content to move on without trying to acquire the troubled big man.
It's obvious that some shady things have been going on behind the scenes here. No one seems to know why Dwight opted in to the last year of his deal, if all he wanted was to go to New Jersey anyway.
Maybe the Magic told him they would trade him to Brooklyn if he opted in, but then backed out?Maybe that's why he felt like they betrayed him?
It's all speculation at this point, but it seems like Dwight wore out his welcome with the Nets before he ever got there.
That brings us to the final question: where now for D12?
There seem to be a few possible options left for him.
1) Stick it out with one more extremely awkward season in Orlando. Get used to being booed instead of cheered at home games. Go sign with whoever has cap space and wants to put up with your drama.
3) Get swapped with Andrew Bynum and follow in Shaq's footsteps to L.A.
4) Go to Phoenix in a deal that brings the Polish Hammer, Marcin Gortat, back to Orlando.
Okay, maybe that last one doesn't make much sense. But really, if I were Dwight, I think I'd have to take some serious time to reflect on just how wrong everything has gone these past several months and, how every time I had the chance to help make the situation better, I only seemed capable of adding more and more fuel to the fire.
Where Should Dwight Howard Go Now?
I'm sure most teams that have any chance at acquiring him will still make a run at Dwight Howard.
He's still the most talented big man in the league, although that offseason back surgery could be scarier than what we've heard. Hard to say with that type of thing.
In the end, it looks like the Brooklyn Nets decided to move on from the media circus that Howard has surrounded himself with. It makes things awkward for him, since he declared only a few days ago that the Nets just so happened to be the only team on his list.
I'm sure he'll manage, though. It's not like he hasn't changed his mind before.
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