On paper, the Detroit Pistons and Brooklyn Nets are both within two games of the final playoff spot in the East; in reality, the two teams are headed in opposite directions. While the young Pistons are anxiously looking to end their five-year postseason drought, the aging Nets are thought to be contemplating a fire sale.
And if a report coming out of New York can be believed, the Pistons want to help light the match: "Hearing Detroit reached out to Nets to inquire about Joe Johnson," ESPN New York Ohm Youngmusik tweeted Tuesday, citing unidentified league sources. "Detroit's interest in Joe Johnson included reaching out to Nets about a package of Brandon Jennings + expiring contracts," he later added.
First, a disclaimer: the NBA's trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m. ET, and every front office in the league is likely taking stock of available talent from every other team. The vast majority of these preliminary conversations will never be leaked to reporters, so we shouldn't overreact to the handful that do.
That said, I'm struggling with the math here. Johnson is making $23.18 million this year and $24.89 million in 2015-16. Jennings, meanwhile, is making $8 million this year and $8.34 million. next. Jennings was a revelation for the Pistons immediately after Josh Smith was released, but considering he's recovering from a torn Achilles with just a single year left on his contract, I wouldn't be surprised if the Pistons opted to move him in the right deal. But this ain't that.
Detroit's only expiring contracts of note (not including Greg Monroe, who must consent to any trade and would sacrifice his Bird Rights by doing so) are Jonas Jerebko ($4.5 million), Joel Anthony ($3.8 million), Gigi Datome ($1.75 million) and Kyle Singler ($1.09 million).
Even if they tossed all of those guys together and/or found a third team to get involved to make the math work, why would they want to? He's a talented player who could help in the short-term, but he's a 33-year-old stop gap who'd severely limit Detroit's options heading into the summer, as DBB's Sean Corp explained on Twitter:
Detroit bragged about the benefit of stretching Smith because it created significant cap room this summer. Not ditching that for Johnson— Detroit Bad Boys ☠ (@detroitbadboys) February 17, 2015
If Pistons trade for Johnson then they literally have no avenue to replace Monroe if he leaves. Cap space would be tied up one more year.— Detroit Bad Boys ☠ (@detroitbadboys) February 17, 2015
Why Pistons would want to delay cap space until 2016 makes no sense becuz EVERYONE will have cap room in 2016.— Detroit Bad Boys ☠ (@detroitbadboys) February 17, 2015
= no Joe Johnson MT @Vincent_Ellis56 SVG last week: We will not make move that will make us better for last 28 games and hurt us next year— Detroit Bad Boys ☠ (@detroitbadboys) February 17, 2015
Finding a viable starting wing who can help share the playmaking load and stretch the floor would be a huge benefit for the Pistons. But completely sacrificing the future on a veteran whose current paycheck stopped making sense three years ago? That's out of Joe Dumars' playbook, not Stan Van Gundy's. I just don't see it.
Now your thoughts.
Update: Our connected friends at NetsDaily poured cold water on this rumor:
A league source familiar with the Nets thinking told NetsDaily the Johnson-to-Pistons story is "nothing."— NetsDaily.com (@NetsDaily) February 17, 2015
Source said salary dumps like Johnson-to-Pistons proposal could have done with him or other players last week or last month.— NetsDaily.com (@NetsDaily) February 17, 2015