Chris Broussard of ESPN first reported the Heat as the favorites to land Johnson.
The Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors were also reportedly actively pursuing Johnson, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.
Per Stein, Johnson will clear waivers Saturday at 5 p.m. ET, at which point he’ll be eligible to sign the deal with Miami.
Johnson likely sought a buyout because of the active interest he’s drawing from multiple contenders, as Bobby Marks of The Vertical outlined in a recent piece on the key contrasts between a buyout and a straight waiver: "It is negligent for an agent to work on a buyout for a player without having a destination team to sign with. A player should never leave money on the table without a team waiting on deck to sign him."
Johnson issued a statement through his representatives at EAG Sports Management thanking the Nets while looking forward to signing with a new team:
Johnson was in the final season of a six-year, $123.6 million deal he signed with the Hawks prior to the 2010-11 campaign, per Spotrac. At the time, the max deal was heavily questioned given its dollars and longevity, as Johnson ranked behind only Kobe Bryant with the NBA’s highest salary in 2015, per Spotrac.
Johnson is averaging just 11.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists despite playing 33.9 minutes per game. His 40.6 shooting percentage is the second-worst of his 15-year career.
Perhaps with a renewed role and by moving on from the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference, Johnson could truly chase his first title.
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