Rule number one of trade leverage: Don’t look eager to make a move. Pretend you’re not interested at all.
That could be what is going on here with the Brooklyn Nets.
Or, maybe the report from ESPN’s Marc Stein is accurate — maybe now, after buying out and waiving Deron Williams thereby dramatically lowering their payroll, the Nets have no intention of trading Joe Johnson.
That last part is true, the Nets have no lottery pick to tank for. With Johnson, plus the re-signed Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, they stand a legitimate chance of making the playoffs in the East. They are not going to challenge Cleveland for supremacy, or frankly even Chicago/Washington/Miami/Atlanta for that second tier. But they could get an invite to the dance.
Still, this is in a rebuilding mode, just one with a couple of key pieces in place. Johnson is not part of the long-term future, and if a team offers the right combination of picks and players to move that rebuilding along faster, the Nets have to strongly consider it. That may not happen with his steep price tag, but it’s possible an offer comes because this is the last year of his deal.
The Nets just don’t want to look eager.