EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Cam Johnson moving on from extension talks, wants to remain with Suns

Oct 18, 2022, 5:35 PM
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Suns forward Cam Johnson is not just smart. He is wise. When his teammates and coach are asked about it, it’s one of the first things, if not the first thing that is said about him.

So when a contract extension didn’t get done on Monday, do not expect him to react, really at all if we’re being honest.

His teammate and “twin” Mikal Bridges told Burns & Gambo on Tuesday that Johnson was the calm one who helped Bridges understand the circumstances that led to that conclusion.

Bridges was the one pissed off, justifiably so for his friend who didn’t get paid after Bridges himself did.

“He kind of ran it down for me. … Cam’s so smart so he knows and understands everything,” Bridges told reporters after practice on Tuesday. “I was more confused in not understanding why and he kind of ran it down for me, made it easier for me to understand.”

Johnson said over the summer this was not something he was going to allow much real estate in his head and that is even more of a fact now that there’s nothing to be done until he’s a restricted free agent in July.

“To a certain extent, you have to separate the business side from the personal side,” Johnson said Tuesday. “The fact of the matter is I love playing here. I think I can put the business side away. Those business negotiations are done. That box won’t be reopened for a number of months now. So I can put that behind me, put that off to the side and focus on playing. Focus on what I’m actually here to do and that’s what I plan on doing.”

See? Wise dude.

Johnson noted how what they do on the court as players is naturally disconnected from the business element of their profession. He described it as “relatively easy” to, as he put it, close the box for now.

“Kinda just moving on,” Johnson said. “Either way, I’m excited to play this year. It doesn’t change anything about what’s going on now, it doesn’t change my approach. I was excited for this season for many reasons and the contract doesn’t necessarily figure into that in terms of change.”

Johnson did notably state that the Suns’ current ownership situation factored into the talks.

“Negotiations are interesting, especially when ownership is unclear. Extremely interesting,” he said. “Once you see that the situation is what it is, you can get over it relatively quickly and just be excited for the opportunities that are presented in front of you.”

For something that seems like it should have got done and lacks sense when it didn’t, the team being up for sale certainly is worth wondering about when it comes to the multiple reasons why Johnson is not extended.

If it’s in Phoenix, Johnson’s next contract will enlarge the Suns’ luxury tax bill, a bill we don’t know who is paying yet.

Johnson becoming a starter this year was an endorsement of the player he has become, one that was worth making things rocky enough with Jae Crowder for that Crowder’s now inactive while waiting for a trade. There’s a decent chance Johnson puts up numbers that warrant more money than something like the $16-20 million a year he deserved now. He has more of an opportunity to now, something the Suns are doing themselves.

And then there’s the league’s new broadcasting rights deal coming that will see the salary cap explode sometime in the mid 2020s. That’s a reason for both sides to want to wait until more clarity potentially comes by July. There are at least a handful of teams across the league that are happy about that patience, and Johnson is easier to trade now than he would have been if he signed pen to paper.

This is my way of reinforcing how many layers there are to this situation, one that could blast music through it’s ignorantly loud sound system in someone’s headspace and prove to be a distraction for many players.

Johnson is not one of them.

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