For the next four seasons the Brooklyn Nets, have at least $80M in guaranteed money to hand out each year. Currently, the Nets have the second-highest payroll in the NBA, as Brooklyn is spending $87M on its players this season.
With the acquisition of Joe Johnson this off-season, the Nets are scheduled to pay three different players $15M or more in each of the next three seasons. When the Miami Heat went out and gave three players a max contract it was understandable; although the Chris Bosh argument was a tad weak, those three were revered as top-15 players in this league.
Brook Lopez, Deron Williams and the aforementioned Johnson have the Nets at a fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 28-20 record–the Nets struggled earlier this season and axed coach Avery Johnson after just 28 games.
If these three stars are going to get paid like superstars, it’s about time they start playing like it, as Johnson is averaging just 16.9 points per game, which is his lowest tally since the 2003-04 season. Lopez has shown flashes of brilliance this season, but he will have to carry it into the playoffs to honor the over $58M coming his way over the next five seasons.
To put this in perspective, the Houston Rockets are currently dead last in the NBA with a payroll of $51M. Thus far in 2013 the Nets have just one more win than the Rockets at 28.
Moving into a new arena may be a cause for some of these growing pains, but it’s time these three stars perform up to the lengthy contracts they’ve all been awarded.