I have received a few emails from listeners wanting to know why the Phoenix Suns didn’t keep Wesley Johnson. I’m not sure why anyone cares about the small forward who has been a bust since being the fourth overall pick by Minnesota in 2010, but let’s try to explain it as best we can.
1) There was no room on the roster for Johnson once the Suns drafted two players in the first round (Alex Len and Archie Goodwin) and made a two-for-one trade sending Jared Dudley to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler. As it stands, the Suns have 16 players with some sort of guarantee on their contract. Simply put, there wasn’t any room for Johnson.
2) Johnson is “a dime a dozen player.” He averaged 8.0 points on 40 percent shooting for Phoenix last year, although he did see a boost in playing time and confidence after the coaching change from Alvin Gentry to Lindsey Hunter. Truth be told, he would have played a lot more under Gentry, but the former Suns head coach and current Clippers assistant was under orders to play Michael Beasley more. But Johnson certainly didn’t set the world on fire when he did get more playing time — he had just a handful of good games. Plus he is a liability defensively and soft. And the Suns seem set at the small forward spot with Caron Butler starting, P.J. Tucker and some Markieff Morris. Since no one, and I mean no one, will take him in a trade, Beasley, who played mainly small forward last year, likely will be moved to the power forward spot and be a role player off the bench until the Suns can find a way to dump him.
3) Money wasn’t an object here. Johnson and his camp initially told the Suns they wanted more than the minimum and he ended up getting the minimum from the Lakers. No surprise there. The Suns had very little interest in Johnson before the draft and the trade with the Clippers, and no interest after the additions.
Johnson is still young, only 26, but he is now going on his third team in four years and there is a reason for that. He just isn’t that good.