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There are a couple of motivating factors behind this deal that increase the likelihood that it gets completed. First, the Nets are for sale. While they’re an attractive purchase as assembled just because of brand power and location, the first order of business for any new owner would be to shed some of the bad long-term deals on their books and put their fingerprints on the team. By taking care of that now and creating more flexibility, a sale of the team becomes somewhat easier.
Secondly, the signing of Stephenson has not gone right for the Hornets from day one. They are still in a position where they can make the playoffs, and the veteran Johnson, although significantly more expensive, would be a much better fit alongside Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson than Stephenson has been.
If Johnson is dealt, expect Brook Lopez to be traded next. As far as Deron Williams is concerned, though, the Nets may be stuck with him – for now at least.
The backup center position has been an area of need for the Mavericks since the Rajon Rondo trade that cost them Brandan Wright. O’Neal has been non-committal about whether he is going to play this season, but has kept himself in shape and the Mavericks make the most sense for him if he does decide that he wants to play.
O’Neal, whose career was rejuvenated by the PRP procedure that Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant made famous and recommended to him, lives in Dallas and has a history with Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle dating back to their time together in Indiana.
The recent injury scare for Tyson Chandler, who returned from a knee injury in-game Saturday after being carried off by teammates when it originally occurred, could increase the Mavericks’ urgency in signing O’Neal to ensure his work load isn’t too much.
It just doesn’t seem like there’s any way around surgery for Bryant. He’s notorious for being a quick healer and playing through pain that others couldn’t, but the last couple of years he’s met his match between the torn Achilles, broken bone in his knee and now a torn rotator cuff. The first two kept him out for an expansive period, and it looks like his season will end prematurely once again. The Lakers are floundering without him (not that they were great with him); Byron Scott recently sat Jeremy Lin against the San Antonio Spurs and benched Nick Young for the second half of their game against the Houston Rockets. Bryant’s leadership, more than his production, will be missed on the floor, especially if he spends time away from the team while recovering and rehabilitating.
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