The Nets on Thursday reached a buyout agreement with veteran forward Joe Johnson, who will become a free agent when he clears waivers on Saturday evening.
According to a league source, the Celtics are "looking into" pursuing Johnson. Boston has a roster spot available after waiving David Lee last week. Johnson, who is reportedly being pursued by numerous playoff contenders, could be an intriguing fit as Boston makes its playoff push. The 34-year-old is averaging 11.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 37.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Celtics are in position to offer more money than several other potential suitors, as they have the full room exception available. That exception is valued at $2.814 million, and in this case would be prorated since Jan. 10, so it would be worth about $2 million.
But Johnson is in the final season of a six-year, $124 million deal, so there is a very good chance he would favor a team that is closer to a championship, like the Cavaliers, over making a bit more money with a team like the Celtics.
"Joe's a true competitor," said Bucks coach Jason Kidd, who coached Johnson in Brooklyn two seasons ago. "I wish him the best wherever he ends up. He's not afraid of having the ball late, so they get a closer. So wherever he ends up, they have a chance to win."
Coach Brad Stevens declined to comment on the Celtics' possible interest in Johnson, but he reiterated that the team will be judicious as it looks to fill its opening.
"There's all kinds of things you could go through and look at," Stevens said, "but I think when you're talking about a team like us, if we choose to look at that last roster spot, I think the versatility stands out more than anything else."
Even if Johnson does not end up in Boston, his departure from Brooklyn could have a ripple effect. The Celtics own the Nets' first-round draft pick this June, and removing Johnson from Brooklyn's roster for the season's final 25 games could send the team into even more of a tailspin.
The Nets entered Thursday with a 15-42 record, fourth worst in the league. But they were just one game ahead of the Suns (14-43) and 2½ behind the Timberwolves (18-40).
Kidd still learning on job
Throughout his sterling 19-year career as a point guard, Kidd was such a capable guide that he was viewed as a coach on the floor. So when he became the Nets' coach in 2013, just a few months after retiring as a player, he almost seemed like a first-year veteran.
But Kidd, who is now in his third year as a coach and his second guiding the Bucks, said he very much remains a work in progress on the sidelines.
"I'm still learning," he said Thursday, prior to his Bucks losing, 112-107, to Boston. "This is a very hard job. It's not easy. Even if you win, you're not guaranteed anything, and if you lose you're not guaranteed to be around. So the best thing you can do is do what you believe in, what's right for the team and hopefully at the end of the day you have helped one or two guys reach that bar that they've set."
Kidd is 109-113 over nearly three full seasons as a coach, and his winning percentage has decreased each year.
"Right now being a young coach, I'm trying to learn how to coach," he said. "I didn't come through the coaching ranks. I've been around a lot of great coaches, talking to those guys and just understanding.
"As a player you're thinking totally different than a coach. So that's something that you have to learn. It just doesn't happen overnight."
They’re missing Olynyk
The Celtics missed forward Kelly Olynyk during their recent three-game road trip, as they went 1-2 against the Jazz, Nuggets, and Timberwolves. Olynyk, who is averaging 10.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, is expected to be out two or three more weeks because of a sprained right shoulder. "Obviously it takes away a huge 3-point threat for us, that's first and foremost," Stevens said. "People have to guard him. And he's a knowledgeable defender. He's productive on that end of the floor. He's an offensive player you're just taking out of that end of the equation. You have to figure out a way to make up for all of that." . . . All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas started against the Bucks after missing Wednesday's practice with a sore left wrist. He finished with a game-high 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting (though 2 of 10 from long distance), plus seven assists. Second-year wing James Young was assigned to the Maine Red Claws.