Heading into the NBA free agency period, most knew that the top priority for the Brooklyn Nets would be re-signing restricted free agent Cameron Johnson, who they acquired in the blockbuster deal that sent Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns at the NBA trade deadline. It was also apparent that Johnson would not come cheap for the Nets. Multiple reports confirmed he declined a $72 million contract extension from the Suns last season. It was one of the main reasons he got traded by the franchise.
At the opening of the free agency period, the Nets got their answer on the future of their star forward. Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Johnson has agreed to return to the franchise on a 4-year, $108 million deal.
“Restricted free agent F Cam Johnson has agreed on a four-year, $108 million deal to stay with the Brooklyn Nets, his agent Steven Heumann of CAA Basketball tells ESPN,” Wojnarowski tweeted on June 30. “Nets keep a young cornerstone acquired in deadline deal with Suns.”
Johnson averaged 16.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 25 games for the Nets last season.
Nets Part Ways With Joe Harris
However, Nets general manager Sean Marks was busy on the phone before the free agency period officially began. In an unexpected turn of events, Brooklyn traded their sharpshooter Joe Harris to the Detroit Pistons, first reported by Wojnarowski
“The Brooklyn Nets are trading Joe Harris and two future second-round picks to the Detroit Pistons, sources told ESPN,” Wojnarowski wrote.
The Nets are in a peculiar period as they prepare for the upcoming season. For the first time since the 2019-20 season, they do not have a single All-Star on their roster. But in the second half of last season, Brooklyn proved that they have enough solid, young players to at least be competitive in the Eastern Conference.
But Brooklyn still could elect to go the superstar route in the future. Despite the disaster with Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, Brooklyn is still viewed by some as a top free-agent destination. Per Wojnarowski, trading Harris to the Pistons gives the Nets “more flexibility” to consider other deals during the offseason.
“By trading Harris, the Nets create a $19.9 million traded player exception and the flexibility to explore more deals this summer,” Wojnarowski added.
“Harris, 31, averaged 7.6 points and shot 42.6% on 3-pointers last season. He is heading into the final year of his contract and due nearly $20 million for the 2023-24 season.”
Yuta Watanabe Chooses Suns
Unfortunately, the free agency period was not all good news for the Nets. There was initial concern from the fanbase on whether or not Brooklyn would be able to retain their free agent sharpshooter Yuta Watanabe. That concern proved to be legitimate as Watanabe inked a free agent deal with the Phoenix Suns in the opening moments of the free agency period, according to NBA insider Shams Charania.
Watanabe was not a household name heading into last season. But amid a season of chaos for the Nets franchise, he was one of their more consistent players.
The Nets sharpshooter had a breakout season in 2023, where he shot a scorching 44% from beyond the arc, elevating himself as one of the top marksmen in the NBA.