Boston Celtics fans are in dire need of some good news this season, and this might be just what they were hoping for.
The Brooklyn Nets, who owe the Celtics two first-round draft picks over the next four years, have been reaching out to other NBA teams looking to gauge trade interest in Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, ESPN.com reports. Those three players were the cornerstones of what Brooklyn envisioned being a championship-caliber core last season.
No trade is imminent, sources told ESPN.com, but the “exploratory discussions” indicate change could be coming for the Nets, who paid $190 million is salary and luxury tax last season only to be knocked out by the Miami Heat in five games in the second round of the playoffs. The Nets “aren’t looking to merely dump salary,” according to the report, but given the high price tags of all three players, trading them for players who would help Brooklyn “win now” could be difficult.
Watching this all intently is Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. The Celtics shipped legends Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn as part of a package in the summer of 2013, hoping to jumpstart their rebuilding process. Boston received Brooklyn’s 2014, 2016 and 2018 first-round picks, the first of which they used on Kentucky swingman James Young in this year’s draft.
Obviously, the Celtics benefit if the Nets finish poorly in seasons in which the Celtics hold those picks, as poorer Brooklyn records would give the picks greater odds in the draft lottery.
Williams has two years at more than $43 million remaining on his contract beyond this season. Johnson has one year at $24.9 million. Lopez has a $16.7 million player option; he has battled foot injuries and is currently dealing with a sore back.
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