NBA Rumors: Why Brooklyn Nets Are Better off with Joe Johnson Than Dwight Howard
Before the Brooklyn Nets closed the deal that will send them Joe Johnson in exchange for some spare expiring contracts and a first-round pick, the organization had its heart set on a far more conspicuous prize.
So far, that hasn't changed.
The Nets and Magic are "still plugging away" with possible Howard trade scenarios, according to a person familiar with the process. "Everything is in play," said another person connected to the talks, including a possible deal with theLakers, whose stunning acquisition of Steve Nash Wednesday night may have pushed them onto Howard's radar as a team with whom he'd sign an extension if traded.
Though the Nets may have competition from the Lakers and possibly others, they're also capable of putting together a pretty good package.
According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, that package would include Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and a trio of first-round draft picks. By the time these two clubs reach the end of their negotiations, who knows what it will look like.
Either way, that's not a bad haul for a guy who's leaving town one way or the other.
New Orlando General manager Rob Hennigan may be inclined to wait for a good deal, but it's unlikely he'll find a deal that's much better than that—especially when Howard has been so selective about the teams he'd be willing to stay with over the long-term.
But, for all the trouble Brooklyn is going to, it's worth asking whether it's actually worth it.
Sure, Dwight Howard is an imposing presence. He's an exponentially better rebounder than Brook Lopez, and he's a game-changer on defense.
By that same token, he also has limited scoring ability that could wane when he begins to lose some of his explosiveness, and he's not on the same level as Shaquille O'Neal in his prime.
Meanwhile, the Nets would lose a fine rebounder in Humphries and an excellent scorer in Lopez. They'd also forgo up-and-coming MarShon Brooks, a youngster who would otherwise do wonders for this rotation's bench unit.
And, while there's plenty not to like about incurring the four years and $90 million left on Joe Johnson's contract, there's a good case to be made that he's a vital missing piece.
The weight of the Nets' world fell on Deron Williams' shoulders last season, and it became abundantly clear that he needed a sidekick who could score and create some plays. That sidekick needn't be a superstar—an experienced All-Star should suffice.
Johnson will benefit as well.
Too often relied on to be the sole finisher down the stretch for Atlanta, he can give and take with Williams and play off of his point guard's brilliance. This is a symbiosis that should work.
Will it work enough to make the Nets contenders? Maybe not.
Would Dwight Howard actually change that?
Don't be so sure.
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