The teams could not find a workable deal and have tabled discussions, but sources told ESPN.com that the Nets were encouraged enough in general to believe that they will ultimately find a trade taker for Johnson's mammoth contract, which only has one season left to run but at a massive $24.9 million in 2015-16 -- the league's richest deal when it was signed four years ago.
The Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons are among the other teams, like Memphis, to register exploratory interest in Johnson in recent months, but trades made recently by both teams -- with the Hornets acquiring Nicolas Batum from Portland and the Pistons nabbing Ersan Ilyasova from Milwaukee -- would appear to take them out of the Johnson mix.
The Grizzlies are openly searching for more perimeter firepower after a lack of outside shooting contributed to their second-round exit in a rugged six-game series with the eventual champion Golden State Warriors.
ESPN.com reported last week that Memphis has been pursuing Denver Nuggets sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari for some time but has likewise been unable to find common trade ground with the Nuggets on such a deal.
After the Nets' first-round elimination this spring, ESPN.com reported that Brooklyn would explore the trade markets for both Johnson and Jarrett Jack (due $12.6 million over the next two seasons but only partially guaranteed in 2016-17) to try to get away from luxury-tax territory, knowing that both figure to be easier to move than 30-year-old former All-Star guard Deron Williams (who is owed $21 million next season and $22.3 million in 2016-17).
In the wake of Brooklyn's early departure from the playoffs, Johnson all but admitted that he expected to be shopped, saying: "I don't think anyone is indispensable, and that includes me."
"Something's going to happen," Johnson told local reporters at the time. "I don't know what. I don't see us coming back as the same team. This is my third year here. I could see if we were getting better each year, but it's kind of been the opposite. So to not even be a .500 ballclub in the East ... it's disheartening and I don't know. I think everyone in that locker room is unsure of the future here. So we'll see what happens going into the summer."
Johnson was acquired in a sign-and-trade deal with the Atlanta Hawks in the summer of 2012 to help clinch the free-agent return of Williams that summer, but the Nets have openly described the re-signing of free agents Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young as their priorities this summer. The consistent word in league circles holds that the Nets will likely come to verbal agreements with both Lopez and Young early in free agency.