The regular season is in full swing for the Phoenix Suns and the entire NBA. Cam Johnson has already had some good games as a starter, has already torn his meniscus, missed it for 1-2 months and is coming back into the discourse this week.
Even as the whirlwind spins, let’s take a look back at what stopped the Suns from renewing Johnson in the summer leading up to the final year of his rookie deal. HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto reported in part on exactly this topic on Monday.
The Phoenix Suns have discussed a four-year contract extension of between $66 million and $72 million with forward Cameron Johnson at various points before the start of the season, league sources told HoopsHype.
In recent years, shooters like Davis Bertans (5 years 80 months), Joe Harris (4 years 75 months) and Duncan Robinson (5 years 90 months) have all earned average annual salaries in this range. However, with the salary cap expected to rise significantly, and given Johnson’s prominent role at a championship contender, some in the league believe he can top those numbers with a good season.
They continue to tie the Mikal Bridges 4y/90m contract which is expected to be well above the range where Phoenix is willing to negotiate.
Yossi Gozlan, salary cap expert at HoopsHype, provided the link to Collin Sexton, who signed after a long wait in restricted freelance for 4 years/71 million. Sexton also came from a torn meniscus but chose to have the tear removed as opposed to the incision Johnson opted for.
Additionally, Kevin Durant recently voiced some grievances about his current situation at Brooklyn, and Gozlan addressed how Phoenix’s flexibility to wait for an extension could open the door again for Durant (players in their senior year are of course much easier to act as these). who have not even reached the end of their newly extended contract):
“If [Brooklyn] ever hit the reset button, I still think Kevin Durant would make a lot of sense on Phoenix, and obviously Cam Johnson would be part of the package…”
These four magic words from “Kevin Durant to Phoenix” will always inspire me. But “Cam Johnson stays in Phoenix” wouldn’t be bad to hear either.
Overall, the situation is crystal clear at this point. Suns may have crushed Johnson over the summer, depending on how you view the market value in the league for big shooters who can do even more and depending on how you view Johnson himself.
I’ve maintained throughout this process that I believe Johnson will be close, if not more than Bridges, and it could be because another team is forcing James Jones’ hand in restricted agency.