The forgotten man of the Brooklyn Nets offseason has been Joe Johnson. The 33-year-old enters the fifth year of a six-year, $123 million contract he signed with the Atlanta Hawks in the summer of 2010 and is faced with competition for playing time this season.
Now Johnson hasn’t averaged less than 25 minutes per game in his NBA career, and while he may not see that kind of drop off in playing time, he could see less of it. The Nets acquired guards Jarrett Jack, Markel Brown and Xavier Thames via trade and the draft.
Jack has spent time backing up star-studded backcourts his entire career, most recently helping guide the young duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to the playoffs in 2013. While Thames appears to be headed overseas, the relentless Brown looks to carve his own niche into the Nets’ rotation.
Out of the pair of Brown and Jack, the latter, on paper, looks to give Johnson a run for playing time in the backcourt. Jack sports career averages of 11 points, four assists and one steal per game.
He also averages 28 minutes per game.
The former Sixth Man of the Year candidate, who begins this season with his seventh NBA team, will provide new head coach Lionel Hollins with the ability to go small. It’s even possible that a trio of Deron Williams, Jack and Johnson share the floor with each other.
Johnson’s minutes dipped as Livingston’s stock rose, albeit slightly, as last season progressed. Livingston was averaging a career-high in minutes played by the end of the season when he averaged 30 in the month of April.
Brown’s career in the NBA was off to a good start when he started all five games in the Orlando Summer League, leading Brooklyn in minutes played and placing second in field goal percentage. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy broke his right hand about a month later in a workout in Las Vegas.
When healthy, Brown is a younger, potentially better version of Tony Allen. Of course, Brown needs at least this season to prove he is on an elite level defensively, as Allen is, but he has the tools.
The 22-year-old also acquired a reliable shooting stroke later in college, that expanded beyond the 3-point line, and is capable of withstanding contact on the way to the basket.
In his final season at Oklahoma State, Brown shared the lead for team win shares with former teammate and lottery pick Marcus Smart.
For the past two seasons, the guard/forward has been a reliable scorer and defender for Brooklyn. Johnson had the third highest win-share total on the team for the prior two seasons. After a disappointing performance in the playoffs against a stout defensive front line of the Chicago Bulls, he rebound with a remarkable performance against Toronto this year and averaged 21 points throughout the 2014 playoffs.
Johnson has been regarded as one of the most well-rounded players for his 13-year career. After being picked by the Boston Celtics with the 10th pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, Johnson’s career took off when he was traded to Phoenix, playing with stars like Stephon Marbury, Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion.
Then, Johnson became the man for seven seasons in Atlanta where he was named to six straight All-Star teams.
At this point in his career, Johnson’s prime is more than likely behind him so seeing him replaced throughout the course of a game, or even in the starting lineup, will not be surprising. This especially if Jack rebounds from a disappointing campaign with the Cavaliers.
If Johnson expects to stave off newcomers Jack and Brown in the starting lineup then the seven-time All-Star will need to channel his days as a Hawk.