This version of the Brooklyn Nets could still carry a hefty price tag.
“[Cameron Johnson‘s] tight relationship with [Mikal] Bridges, positional value and status as part of the Durant deal make him hard to let escape,” writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
“A 6-foot-8 wing who can shoot 40% from deep with solid defense will command top dollar. Sources say his floor is $18 million annually, and could easily top $20 million. And with a new leaguewide TV deal kicking in after 2024-25, it’ll make the end of Johnson’s contract a smaller cut of whatever the salary cap becomes.”
The Nets have been an intriguing team going 5-7 since the trade deadline on February 10. But four of those wins have come in the last five games including three straight victories and taking two games from playoff teams in the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Johnson has averaged 17 points per game on 57.8% true shooting with 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.3 steals in 11 games as a Net.
The 27-year-old forward is set to hit restricted free agency.
That is usually a wasteland for players but Johnson’s ability figures to warrant significant interest if the Nets aren’t first to the table with an offer that meets his expectations. Since Johnson has already rejected an offer of $72 million over four years, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype – which breaks down to $18 million per year, the floor which Lewis figured – they will likely have to come closer to surpassing that $20 million-per-year mark and might not have much of a choice.
In addition to Bridges and Johnson’s personal relationship — they have been referred to as “the twins” since their Suns days — the Nets are naturally better with both players on the floor.
Brooklyn sports a plus-1.5 net rating when both Bridges — who is signed through 2026 — are on the floor, per Cleaning The Glass, ranking in the 62nd percentile; a sample size of 533 qualifying possessions. That rating plummets to minus-17.5 (2nd percentile) in 299 possessions with Bridges on and Johnson off. Conversely, their net rating is plus-5.0 and ranks in the 82nd percentile in 128 possessions when Johnson is on and Bridges sits.
Johnson has also made a good impression on head coach Jacque Vaughn.
“He’s shown a little bit of everything,” Vaughn previously told Lewis. “His ability to handle the basketball, play pick-and-roll. His ability to shoot the ball off the bounce in transition. So some things that I’m growing to understand and learn about him. “I feel comfortable putting the ball in his hands.”
“A four-year, $80-85 million contract with a player option on the last season seems about right,” speculated Kurt Helin of NBC Sports although Johnson and his CAA camp may push for more.”
Things could certainly get interesting this summer.
Hard to Gauge CAA’s Plans from Past Experience
Interestingly enough, CAA’s client list includes Johnson’s new teammate in Brooklyn, shooting guard Seth Curry who is also set to hit free agency this offseason and is considered to be the Nets’ biggest flight risk, in large part because of Johnson’s arrival.
“Curry…does seem like someone the Nets could let get away in free agency,” wrote Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report. “The roster is full of bigger, more balanced wings now that Mikal Bridges, Dorian Finney-Smith, and restricted free agent Cameron Johnson are on board alongside holdover Royce O’Neale. If Brooklyn could move Joe Harris and his $19.9 million for next year, it probably would. But allowing Curry to walk is the simpler and more likely approach.”
How that will exactly impact Johnson’s negotiations if at all remains unclear.
But, in addition to Curry, CAA also represents the likes of New York Knicks star Jalen Brunson who had no problem taking money from a new team after failing to reach an agreement on an extension with the Dallas Mavericks.
They also represent Kyle Kuzma who is set to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Washington Wizards – to whom he was traded – and test the free agency waters.
Kuzma is expected to command a substantial raise, even more so than Johnson.
Cameron Johnson Headed for a Big Pay Day
CAA’s list features Johnson’s former Suns teammate Devin Booker, Knicks star Julius Randle, and Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George among several other high-profile – and high-dollar – clientele. All of this points to a very lucrative next contract for the impressive Johnson be it from the Nets or another team.