One of the biggest decisions the Brooklyn Nets have to make this offseason will be what to do with forward Cameron Johnson.
But Johnson has not yet put as much thought into it as those on the outside.
“I haven’t fully developed that plan yet,” Johnson said during his end-of-season press conference on April 23 via the Nets’ YouTube channel. “I haven’t fully developed that plan yet. One thing I’ve learned this year from the summer on to now is that the business will be the business, and everybody acts accordingly in that aspect. So, in my case, I will do whatever I determine and my family and representatives determine is best for my future. Whether that’s being here, somewhere else I can’t fully say.”
Johnson averaged 16.6 points on 61% true shooting with 4.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists with .468/.372/.851 in 26 games after being traded from the Phoenix Suns at the deadline. His improved performance in light of being given a bigger role could raise his price tag.
“Six NBA executives…project Cam Johnson to earn a deal in the neighborhood of four years, $90 million in free agency this summer,” reported Michael Scotto of HoopsHype on April 23.
Johnson certainly stepped up but the Nets are cautioned against overpaying.
Scotto previously reported on Johnson turning down an offer ranging between $66 million and $72 million over four years from Phoenix who was reluctant to give such a rich contract to Johnson. A $90 million deal would take the Nets into the luxury tax next season for a team unlikely to make a title run. Johnson previously said he would let things play out, and instead focus on the season.
“All I can say is that I’ve really come to appreciate the people here, and that means a tremendous amount to me,” Johnson said noting his affinity for the Nets’ cooking staff. “But I have not made any decisions business-wise yet. But I definitely have factors that I am considering and I am warming up to New York, certainly.”
Cameron Johnson’s Gamble Could Pay Off
“I know I came into the league a lot older than other people, but I think I still have a long, long way to go in terms of what I can be,” Johnson said after the Nets were eliminated from the postseason via the YES Network on YouTube on April 22.
His gamble could pay off for the 27-year-old forward after he showed better ball-handling, playmaking ability, and self-creation than previously expected.
“Despite getting swept by Philadelphia, the consensus from NBA executives was Johnson helped his stock by averaging 18.5 points and 5.8 rebounds on an efficient 50.9 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from downtown in the series,” explains Scotto. “It’s also worth noting Johnson, who underwent knee surgery earlier this season in Phoenix, logged 38 minutes per game in the playoffs as Brooklyn’s second-leading scorer.”
Johnson hinted at a return, saying this season set “a foundation for what we can build”, though it might not be as easy as the Nets would like. The Nets could face some stiff competition for the two-way forward’s services.
“Several teams are expected to have interest in Johnson as a restricted free agent, including the Houston Rockets,” Scotto noted.
Houston is exactly the kind of team that could put that $90 million offer on the table.
Mikal Bridges is The X-Factor
Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn appears to be all-in on Mikal Bridges whom Scotto noted executives expect to be on the roster next season. Bridges and Johnson have been close for a long time after being drafted one year apart by the Suns.
That relationship is certainly going to factor into Johnson’s plans this offseason.
“Yeah, I’d say so,” Johnson said. “That’s my twin. I haven’t played an NBA game without him literally because he’s been in all of them. Bar maybe one preseason game I think I played a preseason game or two without him. But, yeah, I mean the guy that I came into the league alongside of, and somebody that I’ve grown close to. I value those people in my life. And he is a good teammate to have. He does little things. He plays hard, defends, and can help cover up a lot of stuff. So the continued opportunity to play with him would be very cool to me.”
How much it factors into the Nets’ decision-making remains to be seen.