Last night, the Nets and Atlanta Hawks agreed to a trade that will send shooting guard, Joe Johnson to Brooklyn for package of expiring contracts and a lottery protected first round pick. Effectively, the Hawks shed a $90 million contract while the Nets bolstered their starting lineup in an effort to keep Deron Williams. Johnson has averaged at least 18.2 points per game during his seven years with Atlanta. By making this trade, signing Gerald Wallace, and potentially Deron Williams, the Nets do not have the money or assets to acquire Dwight Howard

Sources say that the Magic were unwillingly to talk trade with the Nets. Currently, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries are not under contract and the Nets are not willing to part with Marshon Brooks in any deal. A sign-and-trade isn’t possible and the Nets lack the cap room to get Howard. Trading Gerald Wallce isn’t a possibility, either. The Nets are expected to re-sign both Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez.

From the Nets’ perspective, I don’t understand why they would take on Joe Johnson’s contract. The Nets will effectively pay Johnson $90 million over the next three seasons. The Nets could amnesty Johnson next season, but that wouldn’t make much sense. Bottom line, the Nets are pulling out all the stops to keep Deron Williams.

Many expect Deron to re-sign with the Nets and a starting five of Williams-Johnson-Wallace-Humphries-Lopez could vie for a Top 4 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. This lineup lacks to the firepower to challenge the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, but should be good enough to be a playoff contender.