Trail Blazers Exercise 2023/24 Option For Keon Johnson

2:55pm: The Blazers have officially picked up Johnson’s option, per the team.

2:12pm: The Trail Blazers are exercising their third-year team option on guard Keon Johnson, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Johnson’s $2,808,720 salary for the 2023/24 season will now be guaranteed.

The No. 21 overall pick of last year’s draft after one season at Tennessee, Johnson was technically drafted by the Knicks, who traded his rights to the Clippers for No. 25 overall pick Quentin Grimes and a 2024 second-rounder (via Detroit). Johnson was later sent to Portland in February as part of the deal that saw Robert Covington and Norman Powell head to Los Angeles.

An explosive athlete who broke the combine records for both the standing vertical (41.5 inches) and max vertical leap last year (48 inches), Johnson didn’t see much playing time as a rookie for the Clippers, appearing in just 15 games for a total of 135 minutes. However, he got more playing time for the Blazers who went in full-blown tank mode after injuries to Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic decimated the roster, averaging 9.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.9 APG and 1.0 SPG in 22 games (25.5 MPG).

Many talent evaluators thought Johnson would be a top-10 pick last year but he wound up falling mostly due to concerns about his shooting and overall skill level. He struggled mightily with his shot in ’21/22, posting an overall slash line of .353/.340/.804 (.453 true shooting percentage).

With Lillard and Simons back healthy, and the additions of Josh Hart (trade deadline), Gary Payton II (free agent) and Shaedon Sharpe (No. 7 overall pick in June), Johnson might struggle to crack Portland’s rotation in year two.

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