Deron Williams and Joe Johnson clearly weren’t close friends during their tenure in Brooklyn, and now there’s more fuel on that fire. NetsDaily reports that at least one team official expects Johnson to have “a tremendous season” now that Williams is gone:
(V)arious sources inside the Nets have suggested that the departure of D-Will is likely to help Johnson rebound. It was no secret that Brooklyn’s Backcourt didn’t get along. That famous Johnson tweet back in early November was believed to be about his relationship with Williams.
I'm off this shit!!
— Joe Johnson 4real (@TheJoeJohnson7) November 9, 2014
One insider, asked after the buyout if the Nets were still pursuing a Johnson trade, firmly said no. He volunteered there was probably no one more pumped about the buyout than Johnson. “I am sure Joe will have a tremendous season,” he added with a smile.
Though the two never publicly feuded, there were whispers that Johnson didn’t think Williams could handle the scrutiny that came with being a top player in Brooklyn. The fact that their lockers sat on opposite corners of the locker room didn’t help either.
Here’s what Johnson later said about that tweet:
“It’s just- as individuals, as players, (we have to) have each other’s backs out there,” Johnson vented to the media after the team’s Tuesday afternoon practice. “I just felt, I didn’t believe it. I go back, and I watch the tape, and I watch film just to try to get a different perspective, and I mean, my feelings haven’t changed.”
“It’s just kind of what it is. Defensively, we help from time to time, offensively, I just think guys kind of exhaust their options and then when there’s nothing else for them, then they’ll pass it when they have to. For the most part, we’ve been very selfish.”
“It wasn’t like that in preseason,” Johnson added. “Preseason, the ball moved freely, it just seems like it’s really not doing that right now.”
If he was talking about Williams, Williams didn’t appear to know:
Deron: "At times, I think there’s definitely selfish play out there, but I don’t think it’s constant." He doesn't feel it's a big issue.
— Rod Boone (@rodboone) November 12, 2014
I theorized back in November that Johnson was speaking about Brook Lopez, who rarely passed the ball and had missed time in preseason. Only Johnson really knows.
NetsDaily also reported that the team did not want to trade Johnson, instead preferring that they move Williams. It made little sense to trade Johnson over Williams: Johnson is a talented, agreeable player, his deal expires in this upcoming year, and any deal the Nets would make would likely be for contracts that extend beyond next season, further hampering their flexibility going forward. Just take what Mikhail Prokhorov said: “Joe Johnson stays as a core player.”
That’s not to say that Johnson was “never going anywhere,” as the article’s header states. But at least for the time being, he’s here to stay.
NetsDaily — Joe Johnson was never going anywhere