The Brooklyn Nets’ three-and-a-half year union with Joe Johnson ended last February when the team agreed to a buyout with the veteran forward, allowing him to sign with the contending Miami Heat. However, the Nets had an opportunity to trade Johnson before agreeing to the buyout.
According to NetsDaily, general manager Billy King refused to go along with a proposed trade that would have sent Johnson to the Charlotte Hornets with Lance Stephenson – then with the Los Angeles Clippers – heading to Brooklyn. Dmitry Razumov, the Nets’ chairman of the board of directors, reportedly liked the idea of acquiring Stephenson whereas King was not enthused.
Stephenson, 25, is a native of Brooklyn and attended Lincoln High School in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn. He won city basketball championships in each of his four high school seasons and is New York State’s all-time leading scorer with 2,946 points. However, in seven-year NBA career with the Indiana Pacers, Clippers, and Memphis Grizzlies, the former 40th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft has career averages of 8.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists.
Johnson, 35, went on to average 12.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists for the Heat in 14 games, leading Miami to the playoffs. He went on to sign with the Utah Jazz in the offseason.
"Honestly, this season in Brooklyn I was in a tough situation, playing with a lot of young guys, stat chasing guys that didn't really want to win," Johnson said to Sekou Smith of NBA.com. "And in an organisation that really was trying to put a team around guys like Brook [Lopez], Thaddeus [Young] and myself to help us at least fight for a playoff spot. So when I sat back and looked at all that, I realised it was no reason to even stick around for the fallout of that situation."
While Stephenson did not make his way to Brooklyn, fellow Brooklynite, and Lincoln High School alumni Isaiah Whitehead made his way to the Nets after the team acquired him from the Jazz – who drafted him 42nd overall in the 2016 NBA Draft.