Mikal Bridges Reacts to Nets’ Decision on Cameron Johnson

Brooklyn Nets

Getty Mikal Bridges #1 and Cameron Johnson #2 of the Brooklyn Nets.

Weeks of speculation went out with a whimper as the Brooklyn Nets quickly locked up restricted free agent Cameron Johnson in the early hours of free agency.

“Restricted free agent F Cam Johnson has agreed on a four-year, $108 million deal to stay with the Brooklyn Nets,” tweeted ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski on June 30.. Nets keep a young cornerstone acquired in deadline deal with Suns.”

That “deadline deal” sent Kevin Durant out and brought back Johnson in a package along with Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, and a handful of draft picks. The Nets re-routed Crowder to the Milwaukee Bucks but kept Johnson and his “twin”, Bridges, together then and now for the foreseeable future.

Bridges celebrated the news.

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Johnson, 26, averaged 16.6 points 4.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.4 steals in 25 regular season appearances for the Nets shooting 46.8% from the floor and 37.2% from beyond the arc in that span. And he was even more efficient from long distance n the postseason, canning 42.9% of his triples en route to 18.5 points per game with 5.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists.

The Nets had the right of first refusal on any contract offer sheet Johnson might have signed but have long given the impression that they were prepared to match.

General manager Sean Marks called Johnson a “priority” during his exit interview on April 23.

“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!’”

Reports and rumors of potential interest from the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, and Houston Rockets never even got a chance to come to fruition. Detroit and Indiana made other deals signaling they were going in a different direction while Houston has been mostly connected to Fred VanVleet – whom they signed – and Brook Lopez.

Nets Take Cameron Johnson Suitor Off The Market

“The Nets are trading Joe Harris to the Pistons for two future second-round picks,” Wojnarowski tweeted several hours before the start of the NBA’s legal tampering period.

Detroit entered the day with $26.3 million in cap space and there was some thought they could be a team that came out of the gates firing trying to pry Johnson loose and reunite him with head coach Monty Williams who helmed the Suns during Johnson’s tenure.

“If the Pistons offer a four-year, $100 million contract, the Nets surely would have to think about it,” wrote James L. Edwards III of The Athletic on June 26. “A deal with an average annual value of $25 million per year isn’t bad for someone of Johnson’s skill set, even if the upside isn’t there. Detroit can offer that comfortably — and a little bit more.”

To the contrary, the Nets moved swiftly locking up a player who expressed his desire to remain and a key piece from their biggest trade in the last decade.

Harris, 31, averaged 7.6 points and shot 42.6% from beyond the arc this past season.

He is heading into the final year of his four-year, $75 million pact with his $19-plus million salary for the 2023-24 season coming off the books and softening the blow of Johnson’s new deal as the Nets try to navigate the luxury (and repeater) tax.

Nets Lose Pair of Sharpshooters

A previous report from Lewis from June 29 noted that the Nets would not be looking to move Spencer Dinwiddie but that Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale are both available. He also noted interest around the league in free agents Seth Curry and Yuta Watanabe and both players found new homes on Day 1 of free agency.

Curry, 32, signed a two-year, $9.2 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks. This is his third time playing for Dallas in his career after a pair of one-year stints in 2016-17 and 2019-20.

Watanabe, 28, shot 44.4% from beyond the arc while averaging 5.4 points per game. He joins Johnson’s old team – and reunites with a supporter in Durant on – the Suns on a one-year, $2.3 million pact.

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