Should Suns start Cam Johnson next season, give rookie extension?


Cam Johnson enjoys reading about what exists outside of his residence.

“The earth is very insignificant in the grand scheme of the universe,” Johnson said, after Phoenix’s final regular-season game in April. “There’s so much out there and so much that we don’t know. I had an astronomy class in college that I really enjoyed and the topic piqued my interest.”

When it came to the Suns this year, Johnson was a huge part of their historic season that resulted in a franchise-record 64 wins in the regular season.

He established career-highs in almost every offensive category.

Averaging 12.5 points on 46% shooting, Johnson shot 42.5% from deep to rank fourth in the NBA in 3-point shooting. He scored a career-high 38 points, hitting nine 3s with his final one at the buzzer off the glass to stun the Knicks, 115-114, March 4 in Phoenix.

Mar 4, 2022;  Phoenix, Arizona, USA;  Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (23) shoots the game-winning shot in the closing seconds of the game against the New York Knicks at Footprint Center.

The sharp-shooting forward out of North Carolina finished third in the Sixth Man of the Year voting behind winner Tyler Herro (Heat) and runner-up Kevin Love (Cavaliers).

His production dipped a bit in the postseason, though.

Johnson averaged just 10.8 points on 46.5% shooting (37.3% from 3), but he started three playoff games All-Star Devin Booker missed with a hamstring injury.

Suns coach Monty Williams has repeatedly said Johnson is a starter who just happens to come off the bench.

So will Phoenix move Johnson into the starting lineup this season? Signing him to a major rookie extension would be viewed as a move in that direction.

May 15, 2022;  Phoenix, Arizona, USA;  Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (23) drives towards Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) during game seven of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center.

The Suns have placed a high priority on player development under Williams.

So giving Johnson a rookie extension seems likely.

Phoenix gave Mikal Bridges (four years, $90 million) and Landry Shamet (four years, $43 million) rookie extensions last season that kick in this season.

Can’t see the Suns paying Johnson the same as Bridges, but he would likely get $15 million a season for sure, if not close to $20 million.

Johnson will be a restricted free agent in 2023 if he and the Suns don’t agree on a rookie extension.

Read more:Monty Williams working 1-on-1 with Cam Johnson on post play

May 2, 2022;  Phoenix, Arizona, USA;  Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) lays the ball in against Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (23) during game one of the NBA Western Conference semifinals at Footprint Center.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks has asked, “is Phoenix willing to pay starter money for a player who finished third in the Sixth Man of the Year voting?”

Making Johnson a starter changes that narrative.

Suns General Manager James Jones addressed the idea of ​​paying Johnson and Booker, who is eligible for a supermax deal (four years, $211 million) after making first-team All-NBA this season.



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