Nets GM Gets Honest About Cameron Johnson, Blockbuster Trade

Sean Marks, Brooklyn Nets

Getty General Manager Sean Marks of the Brooklyn Nets.

If the Brooklyn Nets have their way, Cameron Johnson will suit up for them next season.

“He’s a big priority for us, Nets general manager Sean Marks told reporters via the Nets’ YouTube channel during his end-of-season presser on April 23. “There’s no question there.”

Johnson was acquired from the Phoenix Suns along with Mikal Bridges and a handful of draft capital ahead of this past season’s trade deadline. He immediately stepped into a similar starting role but with increased responsibilities as the team’s de facto second scoring option on most nights.

The 6-foot-8, 27-year-old forward averaged 16.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.4 steals in 25 regular-season appearances for Brooklyn. And, after turning down an offer ranging from $66 million to $72 million from Phoenix, will be a restricted free agent this summer.

He is expected to generate plenty of interest on the open market.

For what it’s worth, head coach Jacque Vaughn has been a proponent of Johnson’s and Marks sounds as though he’s willing to let the process play out but is intent on retaining a key piece.

“Cam knows how we feel,” Marks said. “I mean JV and I sat with him this morning. We hope he’s back. I mean he’s a tremendous person on and off the court. High, high character. His IQ is off the charts. That’s exciting to be around. He adds a lot to our group, not just on the court. I mean everybody sees what he delivers on the court. but then when you see him in the locker room. It’s certainly refreshing to be around somebody like Cam, and hopefully, he’s here. 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.”

Coming off an era of the aloof and often unavailable Durant and Kyrie Irving, albeit an abbreviated one, it is certainly a change of pace for Marks dealing with Johnson and his “twin” in Bridges who played in 83 games this season, the first player to do so in nine years.

Cameron Johnson Factoring in Mikal Bridges

“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,” Johnson said via the team’s YouTube channel. “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.”

As ominous as that may have sounded, Johnson’s face lit up when he spoke about the impact Bridges would have on his decision-making.

The duo, drafted one year apart, have been close since their Suns days.

“That’s my twin. I haven’t played an NBA game without him literally because he’s been in all of them,” Johnson quipped. “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.”

Bridges will be around but it’s unsure who else will be, though Marks did hint that there could be far less change than may be anticipated.

Sean Marks Pumps Brakes on Nets’ Star Chase

There has been a lot of smoke around the Nets potentially making a push for Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard who is fond of Bridges and Johnson and was in attendance for their Game 3 loss at the Barclays Center.

But Marks hinted at giving the current group more time to jell than the 30-something games they played together between the regular and postseason.

The Nets went 13-15 in the regular season after the trade deadline. But they did go 11-14 in the games in which both Bridges and Johnson were active.

Still, Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes also poured a little cold water on the apparent fire.

“He told me he went there for some meetings, and he went there for some musical project he’s working on,” Haynes said on the ‘#thisleague UNCUT’ podcast on April 24. “Also, Mikal Bridges, that’s a really good friend of his. And he said he went out there to support him. And this was his first NBA game attending as a professional player.”

Haynes added “there’s no dots to be connected right now”, noting that Lillard attempted to secure courtside seats to the Cleveland Cavaliers-New York Knicks series but the latter was unable to accommodate him.

Read More