Where does that leave 36-year-old Joe Johnson?
Marc Stein of The York Times:
Johnson is earning $10,505,000 this season in the final year of his contract. Such a large expiring deal could be useful to facilitate a trade. So, I doubt Utah buys him out until after the trade deadline.
At that point, Johnson will still be owed $3,679,718. How much would he relinquish to become a free agent?
Johnson is having the worst season of his career. He’s no longer getting to the rim or drawing fouls, and he’s bricking far too many 3-pointers. Perhaps, he’s conserving energy for a playoff run. His isolation scoring tends to be more valuable in the postseason, when the game slows down. But the simplest explanation: Johnson has just aged past effectiveness.
Still, in his 17th season, Johnson carries a positive reputation. I wouldn’t be surprised if a good team signs him post-buyout.
Again, his expiring contract could facilitate a trade with teams at every level. If a good team winds up with him, it might just keep him. If he lands on a bad team or stays with a steady or sinking Utah, a buyout would make sense. However, a trade to a bad team – like to the Bulls with a pick for Nikola Mirotic – would mean re-starting buyout negotiations.