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Nets open to putting everyone on trade block

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Nets exploring potential blockbusters

Updated: December 9, 2014, 2:20 PM ET
By Marc Stein and Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPN.com


NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets have begun reaching out to teams to let them know that former All-Stars Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson are all available via trade, ESPN.com has learned.

League sources told ESPN.com that ‎the Nets, off to a disappointing 8-11 start and looking to retool after last season's $190 million roster filled with veterans couldn't advance beyond the second round of the playoffs, have ‎let it be known that they are prepared to move any of those franchise cornerstones in what would likely be separate deals if they came to fruition because of the high salaries each possess.

Sources say no trade is imminent involving any of the three players.


Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesBrook Lopez, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are all igned to big contracts for the Nets, who are off to an 8-11 start.


‎The exploratory discussions with various teams are the strongest indication yet that the Nets are looking to shake up their roster after a tumultuous 2013-14 campaign in which they started 10-21 under rookie coach Jason Kidd. But they did rally to reach the playoffs and beat the Toronto Raptors in a first-round series despite another season of ups and downs for Williams and the injury-plagued Lopez alongside Kevin Garnett and the since-departed Paul Pierce.

‎Yet sources insist that the Nets haven't abandoned their recent "win-now mentality" and aren't merely looking to dump salary. Brooklyn's hope, sources said, is eventually to construct a deal or two that bring back sufficient talent that enables the Nets remain a playoff team.

The Nets have built their team around Williams, 30, and Lopez, 26, dating to the February 2010 trade to acquire the former from the Utah Jazz. Both have since signed maximum contracts alongside another max player in Johnson, whom Brooklyn acquired in the summer of 2012 to help fend off the Dallas Mavericks and re-sign Williams when he was a free agent.

But the Nets, still sporting a hefty $94 million payroll this season after spending nearly $190 million in salary and luxury taxes last season, have not enjoyed the kind of results they had hoped for under new coach Lionel Hollins.

When asked by reporters Dec. 1 if he thought that the core of Williams, Johnson and Lopez could win, Nets general manager Billy King said: "We'll see."

And when pressed about the possibility of making changes to the roster, King acknowledged that "we're on the phones, we're talking to people, but there's nothing imminent."

The reality, of course, is that trading Williams, Lopez or Johnson, let alone a combination of those three, is likely to be difficult.

Williams has two years remaining on a five-year, $98 million deal and has struggled to recapture the All-Star form he displayed in Utah while battling ankle trouble in recent seasons. He's due $21 million next season and $22.3 million in 2016-17, with the ability to opt of his contract and return to free agency in the summer of 2016.

Lopez, who signed a four-year, $60 million deal in 2012, has one more season left on his contract after this one. It's a player option for 2015-16 worth $16.7 million, which Lopez is expected to exercise given the foot injuries that have plagued him for years in addition to the back strain that has him sidelined at present.

Williams underwent offseason surgery on both ankles but has played in all 20 games this season and is averaging 17.6 points and 6.5 assists in 36.5 minutes per game.

Lopez is averaging 16.1 points and 6.2 rebounds in 16 games this season but has played in a mere 96 games over the past three seasons. The 7-footer appeared in just 17 games last season before suffering a season-ending injury to his right foot Dec. 20 in Philadelphia.

Lopez underwent two procedures on his right foot in January, when he had surgery to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal and a first metatarsal osteotomy, in which another bone was repositioned in his foot to unload and protect the injured area. On March 3, Lopez then had surgery to repair a torn tendon and tighten lateral ligaments in his left ankle.‎

Johnson, meanwhile, is making $23.2 million this season as the league's third-highest player and is owed $24.9 million 2015-16. He combines with Williams and Lopez to form the league's highest paid trio this season at $58.7 million combined.

With both players making their way back while the Nets try to learn a new system under Hollins, Brooklyn has had difficulty meshing at times during the first couple of months.

Williams and Lopez are adjusting to their fourth coach since the 2012-13 season when Avery Johnson was fired and replaced by interim coach P.J. Carlesimo. Hollins, who replaced Kidd, has said he has had to learn a lot about his players and admitted to having to alter his system slightly late last month.

A frustrated Johnson called the team out a few weeks ago for playing "very selfish" and saying that "guys kind of exhaust their options and then when there is nothing else for them, then they'll pass it when they have to."

But the Nets showed their potential with a 95-93 overtime win over the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs last week when Williams had 17 points and nine assists and Lopez had 16 points and 16 rebounds.


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Summers 2015 and 2016 are awesome Free Agent Classes.  Nets want in and their stuck with the Deron Williams contract which is maybe the worst in the NBA.  I'm glad as bad as the Knicks are this year they have their 1st round pick and $20+ mil in cap room next summer.

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Summers 2015 and 2016 are awesome Free Agent Classes.  Nets want in and their stuck with the Deron Williams contract which is maybe the worst in the NBA.  I'm glad as bad as the Knicks are this year they have their 1st round pick and $20+ mil in cap room next summer.


knicks should dump Amare for Kobe.  Lakers owe it to Kobe to reunite him with Phil for an east coast playoff run.

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Knicks aren't making the playoffs

Every Knick fan knew that from the day PJ arrived. Knicks will have things in order for 2016.

The Nets are now the ones taking the big splashes, instant fix route and, despite promises from Rasputin the owner, still moving backwards

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They really just want Brook off the team, though I'm sure they'd be psyched if someone came a-knocking for Joe Johnson, who could help a few teams that struggle to score in the half court. I'd love to get Hibbert for Lopez, but I don't know if the Pacers are that desperate to move him. Johnson makes a lot of sense for teams like Phoenix and OKC, imo, but you'd just be going for a straight salary dump there.

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