Hawks, Nets agree to Joe Johnson trade

We’ve been waiting for something huge to happen as NBA Free Agency opened on Sunday. Finally, we have that big move.

And its a trade involving the new look Brooklyn Nets.

And it doesn’t involve Dwight Howard.

In a rather stunning turn of events, the Atlanta Hawks have agreed to trade  Joe Johnson to the Nets for Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Jordan Williams, Johan Petro, DeShawn Stevenson (sign-and-trade) and the Rockets’ first-round pick in 2013 (lottery protected). The Nets will also keep their full $5 million Mid Level Exception, which they plan on using to sign forward Mirza Teletovic.

The Nets also will keep promising young guard MarShon Brooks, and have enough cap room to re-sign Gerald Green.

All of this, however, is contingent on Deron Williams re-signing with the team.

Still with me? OK, good.

Initially, this looks like a, well, interesting move for the Nets. Let’s say they do re-sign Williams and this deal is approved. Here is how the Nets starting line-up could look in 2012-13, pre-Howard nonsense.

PG – Deron Williams

SG – Joe Johnson

SF – Gerald Wallace

PF – Mirza Teletovic

C – Brook Lopez

Johnson and Teletovic aren’t traditional forwards, but it really looks like, as they’re currently constructed, the Nets would have to play small. MarShon Brooks would be their sixth man, Gerald Green would be the other player to see 15-20 minutes a night and the rest of the team would likely be filled with veteran minimum contracts, so there won’t be much help coming on that way.

Evaluating this trade for the Nets needs to be done in two ways. The first, purely as this trade is concerned, the Nets are a much better team today than they were yesterday. None of the players the Nets traded away to Atlanta were vital to the direction in which the team was heading. They’ll likely miss Morrow’s bursts of offense, but that’s replaced in a heartbeat by what Johnson can do for them.

Second, well, what’s left to trade for Dwight Howard? Would a package of Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks and Brook Lopez be enough? I don’t believe so. With all the news surrounding Dwight only wanting to sign with Brooklyn, they’re probably better off just waiting for him to hit free agency anyway and going from there. This was a smart play by the Nets, and it sets them up well with or without Howard in a depleted Eastern Conference.

As for Atlanta, I’m a little confused. I believe they’re making this move because they view Josh Smith as more valuable moving forward than Joe Johnson, and they needed the financial flexibility to make that possible. That’s perfectly acceptable train of thought. But, how do you make this trade and not take back MarShon Brooks or Gerald Green or even both of them?

It is clear that Johnson became more valuable for the Nets, who are looking to make a big splash, than to the Hawks, especially considering the massive contract Atlanta inexplicably gave him in 2010. It’s an interesting trade.

And, somehow, this is the worst news the Orlando Magic could’ve heard today.