Memphis needs more help on the wings. They have an excellent, old-school front like with Marc Gasol — who almost certainly will re-sign in Memphis — and Zach Randolph, but they need to space the floor with shooting. They traded for Matt Barnes, who fits their grit-and-grind style but also shot 36 percent from three last season. They’ve been linked to talks for Denver’s Danilo Gallinari.
And they went after the Nets’ Joe Johnson.
The teams could not find a workable deal and have tabled discussions, but sources told ESPN.com that the Nets were encouraged enough in general to believe that they will ultimately find a trade taker for Johnson’s mammoth contract, which only has one season left to run but at a massive $24.9 million in 2015-16.
The Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons are among the other teams, like Memphis, to register exploratory interest in Johnson in recent months, but trades made recently by both teams — with the Hornets acquiring Nicolas Batum from Portland and the Pistons nabbing Ersan Ilyasova from Milwaukee — would appear to take them out of the Johnson mix.
The first takeaway here is that the Grizzles are serious about getting some more firepower on the wings this season. Finally.
The other (and it’s not a surprise, it’s been talked about before) is that the Nets want to move both Johnson and Deron Williams this summer as they remake their roster and work to get under the luxury tax line. It was always more likely that Johnson would be traded — while he is owed $24.9 million next season it is the last year of that deal. Plus he still provides value on the court, scoring 14.4 points a game and shooting 35.9 percent from three last season. While his game has slipped from its peak and he’s not super efficient, he can still make some plays.
Moving Deron Williams — whose game has slid farther and who is owed $43 million over the next two seasons — will be more challenging. Brooklyn also is shopping point guard Jarrett Jack.