Cameron Johnson

Pacific Notes: Gasol, Drummond, Thompson, Wiseman, Johnson

The Lakers’ signing of Andre Drummond after the trade deadline soured the franchise’s relationship with Marc Gasol, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic (Twitter link). Gasol lost his starting job and that created a rift that could not be resolved, Oram adds. Gasol was traded to the Grizzlies on Friday, though he’ll be waived and will remain in Spain with his family.

Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register runs with the same theme, noting that Gasol called his season with the Lakers “chaotic.” The Lakers signaled this week that Gasol wouldn’t return when they signed DeAndre Jordan.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers are sending their own 2024 pick with no protections in the Gasol deal with the Grizzlies, Bobby Marks of ESPN confirms (via Twitter). The Grizzlies are also receiving $250K in the deal, Marks adds.
  • There will be plenty of pressure on Klay Thompson and James Wiseman to produce for the Warriors during the upcoming season, Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. It’s unlikely that the Warriors’ floor-spacing will improve until Thompson’s return, and they need Wiseman to develop into a frontcourt force in order to become a contender again.
  • Suns wing Cameron Johnson has changed representation, hiring agents Ty Sullivan, Steve Heumann, Melvin Booker and Simone Capers of CAA Basketball, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Johnson, who is entering his third season in the league, averaged 8.2 PPG in 21 game during Phoenix’s postseason run to the Finals. Johnson, a 2019 lottery pick, is extension-eligible next offseason. Melvin Booker is Devin Booker‘s father.

Suns Notes: Paul, Johnson, Booker, NBA Finals

The NBA’s over-38 rule will give the Suns an advantage over the Knicks if they get into a bidding war for Chris Paul, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Berman cites a report from ESPN’s Bobby Marks that says Phoenix will be able to offer the 36-year-old a four-year contract if he opts out this summer, while other teams are limited to three years because of the age provision.

Marks expects the Suns to make a three-year, $100MM offer to the veteran point guard, who has them headed to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993. If the Knicks try to match it, Phoenix would be able to add a fourth season.

Paul is a former CAA client of Knicks president Leon Rose, who has been wanting to acquire him since taking over the team in March of 2020. Paul preferred to be closer to his son in Los Angeles, according to Berman, so the Thunder sent him to Phoenix in a sign-and-trade.

There’s more on the Suns:

  • Paul’s right hand is feeling better after a few days of rest, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. After Phoenix closed out the Clippers in the Western Conference finals, Paul revealed that he had been playing with partially torn ligaments in the hand. The Suns haven’t played since Wednesday while waiting to see if they will face the Bucks or the Hawks next. “Each day that we’ve had off has been really good, and we all get a chance to rest up a little bit before we get it going again,” Paul said.
  • Cameron Johnson wasn’t available for Game 6 against L.A. because of a non-COVID illness, but he should be ready for the start of the NBA Finals, tweets Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “He’s fine. He was ready to go and we found out that same day,” coach Monty Williams said. “It wasn’t anything earth shattering about the whole deal. He was just sick.”
  • Paul and Devin Booker are the betting favorites to be named Finals MVP, according to Alex Kennedy of BasketballNews.com (Twitter link).

Pacific Notes: Johnson, Paschall, Clippers, Lakers Closers

Suns forward Cameron Johnson has opted to not disclose the origins of the nasal fracture he incurred during an April 16 team practice, writes Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.

“It’s over now,” Johnson allowed in speaking about the injury. “Can’t go back in time and change it or anything. It just happened and [you’ve] just got to keep on going.” The Suns recently clinched their first playoff berth since 2010, and Johnson has been a key component of their rotation, averaging 23.9 MPG across 56 contests.

“It’s totally on me,” Suns coach Monty Williams said of the root cause of the injury. “I control the practices. Put him in harm’s way. It happens in practice. It happens when you get together. It’s totally on me.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors have provided a new timeline on the availability of power forward Eric Paschall, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Golden State hopes to have Paschall back on the floor near the end of its current four-game road trip, which concludes against the Pelicans on May 4. Paschall has been sidelined with a hip flexor strain since the beginning of the month.
  • Though ailing Clippers starters Kawhi Leonard and Patrick Beverley were able to take part in L.A.’s shootaround before a 109-101 loss to the Suns on Wednesday, the team does not exactly know when either player will return, per Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register. Leonard is dealing with a sore foot and Beverley is recovering from a hand fracture. Head coach Tyronn Lue allowed that Beverley at least had made “great progress,” but could not provide a definitive window for either player’s return to the court.
  • As the playoffs near, Jovan Buha of The Athletic assesses the best bet for a fully healthy Lakers closing lineup. Within his mailbag, Buha also appraises which players could be the best fit for potential substitutions in that lineup depending on the opponent. The biggest sticking point, despite the Lakers’ complete overhaul at the center position this season, is that Anthony Davis should play at center down the home stretch in any variation.

Pacific Notes: Bagley, Aldridge, Johnson, Lakers

Marvin Bagley III‘s latest injury makes his future with the Kings even cloudier, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic. Bagley is out indefinitely after suffering a fractured left hand on Monday. The career of the 2018 draft’s No. 2 overall pick has been sidetracked by injuries. He missed 20 games as a rookie with knee and back injuries and played just 13 games last season due to a broken right thumb and foot sprain. Bagley’s hand injury will hinder the Kings’ ability of evaluating how he fits long-term but his $11.3MM salary for next season may scare away some teams from dealing for the big man, Jones adds.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • LaMarcus Aldridge would be a better fit with the Suns than the Lakers or Trail Blazers, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic opines. The Spurs are sitting the veteran power forward while seeking to trade him or buy him out. Aldridge would benefit from the Suns’ superior ball movement, Rankin argues, as he will not only get more shot attempts with them but also quality looks from up top and in the lane.
  • Cameron Johnson remained out of action on Monday due to the league’s health and safety protocols, Rankin tweets. The second-year Suns small forward hasn’t played since March 2. The 2019 lottery pick is averaging 10.4 PPG.
  • The Lakers have a number of major decisions upcoming, beginning with their approach to the trade deadline and buyout market. The Athletic’s Jovan Buha and Danny Leroux explore those issues, as well as a look at free agency this summer and whether to re-sign Dennis Schröder.

Western Notes: Curry, Green, C. Johnson, Jazz, J. Hall

Warriors veterans Stephen Curry and Draymond Green didn’t make the trip to Phoenix for Thursday’s game and won’t be available, reports Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). It’s a rest day for Curry, who will be participating in the All-Star Game this weekend. As for Green, he’ll get an extra day of rest for his sore ankle before Golden State gets a week off for the All-Star break.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Second-year sharpshooter Cameron Johnson also won’t play in Thursday’s Suns/Warriors contest, as he’s been placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. If Johnson is subject to contact tracing, he could be good to go following the All-Star break, but if he has tested positive for COVID-19, he won’t be available for the start of the second half either.
  • After waiving Shaquille Harrison last week, the Jazz are still about $1.2MM above the luxury tax line, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who suggests Utah could still get out of tax territory by paying a team to take on Juwan Morgan‘s contract before the trade deadline, then filling its open roster spots off-and-on with 10-day contracts for the rest of the season. Of course, a bigger trade that reduces team salary would also work.
  • The Thunder recalled rookie two-way player Josh Hall from the G League bubble on Wednesday, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). Hall, who played in just one game for the OKC Blue at Walt Disney World, was listed on Wednesday’s injury report as out due to left knee soreness.

Suns Pick Up 2021/22 Options On Ayton, Bridges, Johnson

The Suns have exercised their fourth-year team options on the rookie scale contracts of Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, along with the third-year option on Cameron Johnson‘s rookie deal, per RealGM’s log of official NBA transactions.

All three options apply to the 2021/22 season, guaranteeing each player’s salary for that year. Ayton’s option is worth $12.63MM, Bridges’ is for $5.56MM, and Johnson’s has a value of $4.44MM.

None of the decisions came as a surprise, as all three players have established themselves as promising young contributors in Phoenix.

Ayton, the former No. 1 overall pick, averaged 18.2 PPG, 11.5 RPG, and 1.5 BPG in 38 games (32.5 MPG) in 2019/20 after serving a 25-game suspension to start the season for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy. He’ll be eligible for a rookie scale extension in 2021.

Bridges, who will also be extension-eligible next year, recorded 9.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 1.4 SPG with a solid .510/.361/.844 shooting line in 73 games (28.0 MPG) last season. He moved into Phoenix’s starting lineup later in the season, including for the team’s 8-0 run during the summer restart.

Johnson, the 11th pick in the 2019 draft, averaged 8.8 PPG and knocked down 39.0% of his three-point tries in 57 games (22.0 MPG) as a rookie. The Suns will have to decide next year whether to exercise his $5.89MM fourth-year option for 2022/23.

Pacific Notes: McNair, Achiuwa, Clippers, Johnson

New Kings general manager Monte McNair will be bringing an impressive resume to Sacramento, per Kyle Ramos of Kings.com. McNair served in various capacities with the Rockets for over a decade, mostly recently as vice president of basketball operations under general manager Daryl Morey.

McNair puts a special emphasis on using analytics in his player assessments, thanks in large part to his tenure with Houston. Ramos cites McNair’s discussion of this very topic at various MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conferences. “Organizationally, it helps to have that philosophy where it’s like ‘Hey, we’re going to try stuff until it works’ and you can look across other sports to see what they’ve done to innovate,” McNair said at the 2020 Sloan Conference.

There’s more out of the NBA’s Pacific Division:

  • Energetic Memphis big man Precious Achiuwa could be a great fit for the Kings with the No. 12 pick in this year’s NBA draft, writes James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area.
  • Andrew Greif of the LA Times examines what went wrong for the Clippers‘ ignominious early playoff exit. An executive who spoke with Greif opined that Los Angeles will remain vulnerable without a play-making point guard. “Running it back is great, but the Clippers are beatable,” the executive told Greif. “They need a point guard. They’ve got to get one. They need better chemistry. They’ve got to do a better job scheming and adjusting.”
  • Suns rookie forward Cameron Johnson, the No. 11 pick in the 2019 draft, detailed his experiences on the NBA’s restart campus with Gina Mizell of Valley Tales. He also reflected on what it means to ascend to the next level of basketball talent. “When you get [to the NBA], now everybody kind of has to play their role, but we still all push to get better in every category,” Johnson said. “For me, it’s a lot of ballhandling, shooting off the dribble, understanding defenses from an offensive perspective and how to attack them.”

Suns Notes: Offseason, Oubre, Johnson, Akyol

The Suns will have to decide this offseason whether they want to try to bring back known commodities like Aron Baynes, Dario Saric, and Frank Kaminsky, or whether they want to opt for an unknown commodity via cap room, writes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link). Baynes is an unrestricted free agent, but Saric is restricted and the club holds a team option on Kaminsky.

Kelly Oubre‘s expiring contract will be another factor to watch for the Suns this fall, according to Marks. On paper, it seems like a slam dunk that Phoenix would want to make the 24-year-old wing a part of the club’s long-term future, Marks writes, but Oubre wasn’t part of the team’s 8-0 run in Orlando this summer, and there’s some positional overlap with young Suns like Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • The Suns have faced criticism for a number of their roster moves in recent years, but the club showed this summer in Orlando that the roster was built with a purpose, according to Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer. Tjarks singles out last year’s drafting of Cameron Johnson at No. 11 as a decision that was panned at the time, but seems to be working out well.
  • Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic explores what’s next for the Suns after their success in Orlando, wondering if the summer represents a jumping-off point for making Phoenix a desirable destination for NBA players.
  • Turkish wing Cenk Akyol has announced his retirement at age 33, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Akyol, the 59th overall pick in the 2005 draft, never played in the NBA, but his rights were held by the Suns, who acquired them in a 2017 trade with Atlanta.
  • Earlier today, we broke down the Suns’ odds for this Thursday’s draft lottery.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Warriors, Wiggins, Johnson

Two Lakers tested positive for the coronavirus last month, but head coach Frank Vogel said on a conference call on Thursday that he wasn’t tested at that time and he doesn’t think his assistants were either. As Dave McMenamin of ESPN outlines, Lakers players underwent tests even if they weren’t experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, but the coaching staff wasn’t given the same directions.

“It’s just, we were not told to be tested,” Vogel said. “And obviously everybody recognized the shortage of tests and we were only going to do what the local health department told us to do. So, we weren’t asked to be tested at that point.”

Interestingly, according to Vogel, it’s not just the general public that doesn’t know the identities of the Lakers players who were affected by the coronavirus. The veteran coach told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan that he’s also in the dark about which two players who tested positive.

“I don’t even know who are they,” Vogel said, “and I’m totally fine with that.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • On Thursday’s call with reporters, Vogel also said it would be a “huge disappointment” if the Lakers don’t get a chance to compete for a title this summer, but said he and his team understand the situation. “We get it, and this is bigger than basketball,” he said, per Bill Oram of The Athletic. “And us getting back on the court is not the most important thing for the world right now. Hopefully we have that chance, and if we’re not able to, it would be a big disappointment.”
  • The Warriors‘ ability to spend on free agents during the 2020 offseason will be limited, but Anthony Slater of The Athletic suggests there are dozens of players who could be fits, ranging from long-shots like Paul Millsap to lower-cost options like D.J. Augustin or Meyers Leonard. In Slater’s view, veteran wing Jae Crowder would be the best fit for Golden State among the realistic mid-level-type targets.
  • Can Andrew Wiggins, who has a .372 winning percentage in 454 career NBA games, be a reliable contributor on a contender? That will be one of the key questions facing the Warriors during the 2020 offseason as they decide whether to stick with Wiggins or flip him in a trade, according to Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago.
  • With the help of Gina Mizell of The Athletic, Suns rookie Cameron Johnson details his recovery from mononucleosis and how that experience gave him something of a “head start on the whole quarantine thing.”

Cameron Johnson Sidelined With Mononucleosis

Suns rookie Cameron Johnson has mononucleosis and will be re-evaluated in two weeks, according to Arizona Sports 98.7.

Johnson sat out the last two games, but was a regular part of the rotation before that. The 11th pick in the 2019 draft, he’s averaging 8.1 PPG in 49 games and shooting 39.7% from 3-point range. The illness comes at an unfortunate time as Johnson had a chance to further establish himself with Kelly Oubre possibly missing the rest of the season following meniscus surgery.

The Suns also provided an update on Frank Kaminsky, saying he remains out indefinitely while recovering from a stress fracture in his right patella.

Kaminsky is putting up 11.0 PPG and 4.9 RPG in his first season in Phoenix, but hasn’t been able to play since late December. He has a follow-up consultation with his doctors scheduled for this week.