Nets’ Mikal Bridges Sends Message to Cameron Johnson Ahead of Free Agency

Brooklyn Nets

Getty Cameron Johnson #2 of the Brooklyn Nets.

The latest recruiting pitch by Brooklyn Nets rising star Mikal Bridges may be his most meaningful.

Bridges is doing his part to ensure that Cameron Johnson is a Net next season.

“I just know a lot of people probably want him on different teams,” Bridges told Brian Lewis of the New York Post in an article from June 22. “I just tell him…‘I know money and this and that, but just know where I want you. And you can’t leave your Twin!’”

Bridges’ future in Brooklyn has seemingly long been decided with the organization turning away overtures, including four first-round picks from the Memphis Grizzlies. The 26-year-old swingman averaged a would-be career-best 26.1 points on 60.7% true shooting after the Phoenix Suns traded him to Brooklyn in a package for Kevin Durant.

Johnson, 27, experienced a similar uptick in his production, averaging 16.6 points – which would have been a career-high across a full season – on 61.0% true shooting.

He shot 37.2% from deep with the Nets in the regular season and 42.9% in the postseason.

“That’s my twin,” Johnson said during his exit interview on the Nets’ YouTube channel on April 23. “I haven’t played an NBA game without him literally because he’s been in all of them….The continued opportunity to play with him would be very cool to me.”

Johnson said he did not have a plan for free agency at the time of his exit interview. But comments made on the ‘Ball Magnets Podcast’ on June 20 may have tipped his hand.

“I found this apartment,” Johnson said. “I had it for a certain short-term lease and, at the conclusion of free agency, I’d reevaluate and explore neighborhoods and figure out which area of Brooklyn I’d like to live in. Because there’s a lot of cool little neighborhoods, cool little pockets. That should be a fun experience.”

Nets Could Get Expensive

Brooklyn currently sits roughly $18 million below the luxury tax threshold of $165 million for the 2023-24 season, per Spotrac. Johnson is expected to land a deal that starts at $18 million and could very well exceed that.

That is a lofty proposition for a team that went 13-15 after the trade deadline; something former Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks warned about.

However, Bridges’ feelings on the matter could impact the Nets’ thinking just as it does Johnson.

Nets Warned Against Overvaluing Mikal Bridges

“Mikal Bridges…is probably the third-best [player] on a top-four team,” Marks said on April 22. “That’s the reality of it….And he had a great year. He’s not a No. 1 [option]. I think he’s probably a No. 1 on a bad team. He’s probably a No. 2 on a team that’s the fifth seed the fourth seed. He’s not the No. 1 if you’re trying to win a championship.”

Valuing Bridges is one thing.

Potentially overvaluing him to the point where it affects the wiggle room going forward is another entirely. Fortunately for the Nets, they don’t quite have to make that decision – they have other avenues for creating some space if needed.

Still, today’s good contract can look rather onerous if things don’t go well for that player or the teams that gave it to them. Bridges is under contract through the 2026 season on a four-year, $90.9 million contract and it could cost as much if not more to keep Johnson in the mix. Whether or not the Nets are up for that will soon be put to the test.

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