Ex-Suns forward Cam Johnson signs big deal with Nets, playing in World Cup

new balance


LAS VEGAS — Cam Johnson has battled through injuries, ups and downs and a blockbuster trade that abruptly ended his time with the Phoenix Suns.

He could’ve easily folded at any low moment, but Johnson stuck to what his mom told him after a defeat.

“I was a late bloomer in high school,” Johnson said. “The one thing my mom said after I lost my last high school playoff game that everything happens for a reason. God is in control and it is not for me to worry, but just to focus on how I can be as effective and get better each and every day. Although that lesson is hard to fully digest, I try to go back to that as much as possible.”

Perseverance has helped Johnson stay the course and led to him landing a four-year, $108-million deal with the Nets after being part of the blockbuster Kevin Durant deal that sent him and Mikal Bridges to Brooklyn right before the Feb. 9 trade deadline.

“I couldn’t have guessed it right,” Johnson said when asked Tuesday at NBA Summer League about where he was at this time last year.

“I couldn’t have guessed it, but that’s life and being in this league, you have to be able to handle anything that comes your way at any moment. At the end of the day, it’s a blessing to be a part of it still. It’s a blessing to be in a situation with a team that cares about me and cares about my teammates and doing something important. I have no complaints.”

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The deal solidifies Johnson’s future in Brooklyn.

“I can’t lie, it’s very satisfying and at the end of the day, this is the way I look at it,” Johnson said. “Everything happens for a reason. There’s been lots of ups and downs in my career and it didn’t always look super promising. You go through injuries, you go through tough losses.”

Johnson only played 17 games for the Suns last season, missing 37 games with a torn right meniscus. Beginning the season as a starter, Johnson averaged 13.9 points in those 17 games.

After the trade, Johnson averaged a career-high 16.6 points in 25 games (all starts) with the Nets in the regular season. He raised that up to 18.5 in the postseason, a playoff career high, highlighted by a monster dunk over 2022-23 NBA MVP, 76ers center Joel Embiid.

“When I had the injury in November, the trade, I just tried to keep my head up and keep working, tackle one day at a time,” Johnson said. “And (the new deal) is kind the culmination of it and like I said, just to able to continue to play this game and be in an environment in that kind of is trying to make me the best version possible that I can be of myself. Like I said, I got no complaints.”

Johnson and Bridges will represent Team USA in the FIBA World Cup, a milestone that serves as another blessing for the 6-8 sharpshooter.

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“It’s going to be so much fun,” Johnson said. “I’ve talked to people who have played. I talked to people who have been a part of it. They say it’s such a valuable experience for your career. You can learn a lot from it and you get the experience of seeing high level basketball across the world in an different type of environment. I’m really looking forward to it.”

At this time last year, Johnson was in negotiations with the Suns about a rookie extension, but the two sides didn’t come together on a deal.

Jan 26, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward 	Cameron Johnson (23) drives past Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Rondone-Arizona Republic

Jan 26, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (23) drives past Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Rondone-Arizona Republic

At the time, sources informed The Republic the two sides were in the same area code, but Johnson wanted more than Phoenix’s offer of $60 million over four seasons.

A year later, he’s getting nearly $50 million more from the Nets for the same amount of years.

“It’s a big relief,” Johnson said. “You try not to think about it. Human nature kind of makes you think about it a little bit, but it’s a blessing, it’s a relief and being able to move forward, kind of having a better understanding of what could potentially be in the future, it gives me a lot of comfort and I’m excited to get back to work with these guys.”

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When asked about other teams that were in the mix for him, Johnson, a restricted free agent, said the talks were “very, very, very heavily Nets oriented.”

Johnson said Bridges reached out first to him, but it wasn’t just to congratulate him.

Newly acquired Brooklyn Nets players Mikal Bridges (1) and Cam Johnson (2) play in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 11, 2023, in New York.

Newly acquired Brooklyn Nets players Mikal Bridges (1) and Cam Johnson (2) play in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 11, 2023, in New York.

“It was more of the next amount of dinners are on you,” Johnson said. “I guess he seems to forget that he signed a pretty nice deal a little while before I did.”

Bridges signed a rookie extension for four years, $90 million while with the Suns.

So Johnson got more money than Bridges, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.

“You don’t want the bragging rights,” Johnson said. “You got the bragging rights, you pick up all the tabs.”

Former Phoenix Suns Cam Johnson talks to Devin Booker during the Phoenix Mercury game at Footprint Center in Phoenix on June 21, 2023.

Former Phoenix Suns Cam Johnson talks to Devin Booker during the Phoenix Mercury game at Footprint Center in Phoenix on June 21, 2023.

Johnson said he heard from former Suns teammates about his new deal.

“They’re great,” he said. “We had such a tight locker room. Everybody kind of looked out for each other. I’ve been in contact with a lot of them.”

Johnson recently saw Devin Booker at Mercury game in Phoenix.

“Somebody told me he was over there so I talked to him,” Johnson said. “Talked about a couple of things and just checking on him and making sure he’s good and he is.”

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at [email protected] or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Former Suns wing Cam Johnson finds happiness, $108M deal with Nets



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