It’s late in a close match and he’s on the floor.
Devin Booker and Chris Paul are attracting defensive attention – and are looking to find Cam Johnson to do what he does best.
Pick up and shoot for 3.
Johnson made a triple-deep in the fourth quarter to help Phoenix close out Houston, 124-109, Sunday night at the Footprint Center.
“I love him man, I love him,” Johnson said. “We have some good players and some high-profile players who get a lot of attention, especially in the earlier stages. When teams try to eliminate those options, a lot of the time, I’m the one who takes advantage of that.”
Johnson scored a season-high 19 in Sunday’s win with nine fourths in 3 of 4 of 3.
His teammates love it too.
“It’s so good to see him fly,” said Chris Paul, while Johnson was on the other end of his first and second passes which resulted in 3 to give Phoenix a 122-107 lead with 1:18 remaining in the game.
“We have a hands-on practice called ‘let it fly,’ and when you shoot it like Cam, make or miss, when I kick it and shoot it, it’s great for us not only in that game, but consistently throughout the season.”
Paying off is a given for Johnson, but he has been working towards becoming a more complete player as the start of a “night in, night out”.
“Hopefully his adaptation will go more smoothly over time,” said coach Monty Williams. “It’s still hard to say. It’s a work in progress for sure. It started before, but it wasn’t his night, the beginning of the night from jumping where people plan on him at the beginning of the game. These guys are used to playing with each other, but I think over time, it might We learn a few things about this squad.”
Sources told The Republic that the Suns went to a training camp looking to start Johnson ahead of Jay Crowder, who later decided not to attend training camp. Suns was trying to replace the veteran striker who started all 80 games he watched last season with the playoff count.
Crowder played a major role in Phoenix, reaching the 2021 Finals in his first season with the Suns, and claiming an NBA record best last season. Chris Hines reported during last week’s Suns-Warriors game on TNT in Phoenix that Crowder told him it wasn’t about him or not.
Crowder was in the final year of his $30 million deal with Phoenix that spanned three years. Every player wants security and owning an extension will provide that for Crowder, but the Suns have $131 million tied to five players next season — Devin Booker, Dender Eaton, Michael Bridges, Landry Schammit and Paul.
Phoenix had been negotiating with Johnson over a freshman extension that was to start next season, but the two parties were unable to agree a deal. Sources told The Republic that the two sides were in the same area code, but Johnson wanted more than Phoenix’s $60 million offering over four seasons.
Johnson noted that the team’s ownership situation made the negotiations “extremely exciting”. Robert Sarver is trying to sell the team, which is now worth $2.7 billion according to Forbes magazine, amid a backlash from the findings of an investigation into his conduct during his time as a team owner. This resulted in a one-year suspension and a $10 million fine against Sarver.
Johnson will be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2023. The Suns could match any offer Johnson gets, but how Johnson plays as a rookie – and the market – will largely determine what he bid.
If the 6-8 striker does the following three things, he will have a better chance of leaving the bargaining table next summer happier and richer.
Easier said than done.
With a history of injuries, Johnson started this season with three setbacks in the three consecutive games he played.
He twisted his right thumb in a pre-season game against the Lakers and missed the last two pre-season games. Johnson came back and had four-way cramps in the opening game against the Mavericks.
He then suffered a contusion to his right thigh after taking charge in Portland that kept him out of most of the fourth quarter and overtime, but Johnson played the next game two days later for the Clippers.
This is huge for him to continue playing through the discomfort.
Durability played a role in Mikal Bridges receiving the four-year, $90 million Rising extension. He never missed a game in his fifth season.
Johnson played the highest level of his football career in 66 games last season, starting with 16. If he can play more than 70 games this season, especially as a full-time rookie, he will answer those durability questions.
Knock down 3 seconds in time
Johnson is a career shooting 39% out of 3.
He had his 42.5 career best last season and made 38.5% of them this season. Johnson defeated several 3s in four of his six games which included five high seasons against the Rockets.
So, it will make 3 seconds. The key is to make the effects.
That’s what he did at the end of the Houston game, but they don’t always have to go downhill forward. His first 3 against the Clippers gave Phoenix a 10-point lead, 14-4, in the first quarter after Norman Powell scored.
This is a huge early answer to set the tone for the Phoenix.
Again, he’ll make 3 seconds with a high clip, but hitting them in the clutch, to help set the tone or answer the run is a big deal.
The Suns asks Johnson to do more than just score points.
Improve his grip. easy. Defense. recovery.
They ask him to do more in a shorter time. Williams said he would like Johnson to reach his average mid-20s in minutes.
If Johnson provides job numbers, the delivery comes after the season and he does whatever he asks him to – and score – someone will pay him.
He would then be on Phoenix to match a show that should have grossed over $60 million over four seasons.
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