Nets Take Action With Cameron Johnson Ahead of Free Agency

Cameron Johnson, Brooklyn Nets

Getty Cameron Johnson #2 of the Brooklyn Nets.

The Brooklyn Nets have taken the first steps to keep Cameron Johnson with the team.

“The Brooklyn Nets have tendered a qualifying offer to Cam Johnson,” tweeted Keith Smith of Spotrac on June 28. “Johnson is now a restricted free agent on July 1.”

It was a bit of a formality – Nets general manager Sean Marks has been open about his desire to re-sign Johnson who arrived in Brooklyn at the trade deadline as part of the package received from the Phoenix Suns for Kevin Durant.

“Cam knows how we feel,” Marks said during his exit interview on the Nets’ YouTube channel on April 15. “We hope he’s back. But he’s going to have decisions to make. So, at the right time, we will certainly be having those discussions with him and his agent, and we hope that Cam will be back…He’s a big priority for us. There’s no question there.”

Johnson, 27, averaged 16.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.4 steals in 25 regular-season appearances with the Nets.

Those would have been career-high marks across a full season.

This does not mean that Johnson is definitely returning just yet as he will still be able to sign an offer sheet with another team. But it does officially give the Nets the right of first refusal, and that is where things could get very interesting for him and the Nets this summer.

Mikal Bridges Makes Final Plea to Cameron Johnson

Johnson was sent to Brooklyn with Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, four first-round picks, one pick swap, two second-rounders, and the rights to international prospect Juan Pablo Vaulet.

Bridges and Johnson have grown close over their young careers.

“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!’”

Johnson has made no secret that Bridges would factor into his desire to stay with Brooklyn long-term.

To Bridges’ point, though, keeping Johnson in the fold could get very expensive.

Brooklyn’s Potential Bookkeeping Measures

“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.”

The Nets are $18.6 million below the luxury tax threshold for next season pending any potential new deal for Johnson or any other cost-cutting moves, per Spotrac.

Paying up for Johnson would eat up their cushion and force their hand if they want to improve.

There have been consistent reports that the Nets are planning to make one or both of Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale available for trade this offseason. Offloading their combined salaries would free up nearly $29 million if they don’t take anything back.

The elephant in the room is Ben Simmons’ remaining $78 million on his five-year, $177 million contract over the next two years but it’s not the only way the Nets could create some wiggle room.

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