Tyler Johnson

Free Agent Stock Watch: Restart Edition

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. With the seeding games winding down at the Orlando campus, it’s time to examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors.

Carmelo Anthony, Trail Blazers, 36, PF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.16MM deal in 2019
Remember when Anthony’s reps were practically begging teams to give their client one more chance to play in the league? Carmelo took advantage of his opportunity with the Trail Blazers, finally accepting his new status as a role player instead of being the No. 1 offensive option. He’s turned it up a notch in Orlando during the Blazers’ run to the play-in round. The slimmed-down Anthony has reached the 20-point mark four times in eight games and made 46.9% of his 3s, while also being a factor on the boards (6.9 RPG). He won’t have to lobby for another contract after this season, nor will he have to accept the veteran’s minimum again.

Brandon Ingram, Pelicans, 22, SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $23.8MM deal in 2016
It’s not that Ingram was terrible in Orlando. It’s just that the Pelicans stunk up the joint and the stench clung to everyone involved. Following a breakout season which earned him an All-Star selection, Ingram was unable to carry his team into the play-in round. New Orleans’ poor performances left everyone wondering whether the roster should be reshaped, especially with the front office owning a boatload of draft picks. And Zion Williamson isn’t going anywhere. So while Ingram will still get rewarded handsomely in restricted free agency, is he worth franchise-player type money? There’s no guarantee now the Pels will match if he gets a giant offer sheet.

Cameron Payne, Suns, 26, PG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $2.17MM deal in 2020
Payne was on the free agent market this summer and was signed to fill an open roster spot prior to the restart. Phoenix didn’t bring him in simply for insurance. He appeared in all eight seeding games as a backup point guard, averaging 10.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG and 3.0 APG in 22.9 MPG. Though he signed a two-year contract, only $25K of that money for next season is guaranteed, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks recently noted. The way Payne performed in Orlando, he should have no trouble staying on the roster and earning the rest of his $1.977MM salary for 2020/21 as a second-unit player.

Tyler Johnson, Nets, 28, PG/SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $217K deal in 2020
Johnson signed a four-year, $50MM offer sheet with Brooklyn four summers ago but Miami chose to retain him. He finally wound up with the Nets in free agency and got just over $200K in a rest-of-the-season deal. No matter. Johnson was happy to get fresh start and it has shown during Brooklyn’s gritty performances in Orlando. He’s averaged 12.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 3.0 APG in 24.3 MPG and can now continue his push for another contract during the postseason. If the Nets don’t retain him, Johnson should easily find a home as a second-unit combo guard.

Jerian Grant, Wizards, 27, PG/SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $197K deal in 2020
Grant was signed as a substitute player in June after Davis Bertans opted out of the restart. Grant called it a “dream come true” to play for his hometown team, but he didn’t give the Wizards much incentive to re-sign him to an NBA contract. He appeared in six restart games, averaging 4.5 PPG and 1.5 APG in 13.3 MPG while shooting 25% from long range. Grant spent most of the season with the Wizards’ G League team and he may have to go that route again or look into overseas options.

New York Notes: Nets Guards, KD, DSJ, K. Payne

Both Tyler Johnson and Chris Chiozza will be free agents at the end of the 2019/20 season, as Johnson signed a one-year contract in June and Chiozza’s two-way deal is expiring as well. However, the two guards are making a strong case to be considered for next season’s Nets roster, as Tom Dowd of BrooklynNets.com writes.

The Nets’ rotation has been in a state of flux this summer due to injuries, opt-outs, COVID-19 cases, and some lineup experimentation. However, Johnson and Chiozza have often shared the backcourt as part of the club’s second unit, and the pairing has worked. Entering today’s game, Chiozza is averaging 9.2 PPG and 5.0 APG in six games during the restart, while Johnson has contributed 11.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 2.8 APG.

“I think it’s a great combination; two guards that can pass and shoot pretty well,” Chiozza said, per Dowd. “He’s a smart player so it’s easy to play with him. He knows how to move when I’ve got the ball and I feel like we get each other a lot if open shots.”

Meanwhile, veteran guard Jamal Crawford was supposed to be a backcourt contributor for the Nets this summer after signing as a substitute player, but has been limited to just six minutes due to a hamstring injury.

Despite not playing much, Crawford has provided great leadership for the Nets, including Caris LeVert, head coach Jacque Vaughn said this week (Twitter link via Brian Lewis of The New York Post). According to Vaughn, Crawford may not return before the seeding schedule ends, but the team remains confident he can contribute this summer.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • When the Nets clinched a playoff spot, it assured injured star Kevin Durant of a $1MM bonus, as Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter). Because the bonus had been considered “likely” rather than “unlikely,” earning it this season won’t impact Durant’s cap hit for 2020/21.
  • Former lottery pick Dennis Smith Jr. finds himself at a crossroads as he enters a contract year under new Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. One scout who spoke to Berman is curious to see how the team handles Smith in ’20/21. “He’s certainly not a Thibs kind of player, but let’s see how committed they are to getting him right,” the scout said. “You don’t want to force it because they traded (Kristaps) Porzingis for him. Knowing when to cut bait is important. There may be too many things to fix with him.”
  • New Knicks assistant coach Kenny Payne is primarily known for three things, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News: recruiting, relationships, and developing frontcourt players. As Bondy writes, the Knicks will hope that Payne can assist in their efforts to attract stars to New York.

New York Notes: Irving, T. Johnson, Knicks, Thibodeau

Nets guard Kyrie Irving isn’t participating in the NBA’s restart this summer, but he made headlines on Monday, announcing that he’s committing $1.5MM to supplement the income of WNBA players who choose not to take part in the 2020 season, as Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press details.

“Whether a person decided to fight for social justice, play basketball, focus on physical or mental health, or simply connect with their families, this initiative can hopefully support their priorities and decisions,” Irving said in a statement.

WNBA veterans such as Natasha Cloud and Renee Montgomery opted not to participate in the 2020 season for social reform reasons, while others – like LaToya Sanders – aren’t playing due to health concerns. Irving’s program will allow those players and others to apply for compensation by August 11, by recipients being notified by August 24, per Mahoney.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • Newly-signed Nets guard Tyler Johnson turned heads on Saturday during his first scrimmage with Brooklyn, per Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Johnson, who scored 17 points, said he felt better on Saturday than he had for a good portion of the season. “I’ve been very fortunate to come into an offense where everybody is looking to get everybody involved,” he said. “… I feel very confident that I can get in rhythm on this team.”
  • Now that the Knicks have made a decision on their new head coach, reaching a deal with Tom Thibodeau, it’s time for the team to start addressing its roster, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. As Popper observes, with eight veterans on track for potential free agency and no “can’t-miss” future star on the roster, the club has less talent to work with than either of Thibodeau’s previous squads.
  • Despite the underwhelming roster Thibodeau is inheriting, it looks as if the Knicks are more likely to try to compete for a playoff spot in 2020/21 than to tank, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes in a mailbag. Berman points out that if the franchise wanted an extended rebuild, it wouldn’t have hired Thibodeau over someone like Kenny Atkinson.

Atlantic Notes: Anderson, Nets, Kemba, Waters, Horford, Raptors

Nets swingman Justin Anderson reached a deal with the team back in June, but didn’t officially sign his substitute-player contract until this past Saturday. As Brian Lewis of The New York Post details, that delay was a result of a case of COVID-19.

“It’s something we wanted to try and keep in-house because we weren’t quite sure when we’d be able to pass the protocols,” Anderson said on a Zoom call on Tuesday. “Battling between negative and positive tests, battling between trying to make sure I got here in a car service rather than a plane to make sure I continue to follow protocol. It was just a long journey.

“… (I) spent time here in Orlando outside of the bubble, about five days to get everything situated and past the protocol with two negative tests. It was a process, and I’m just glad that I’m finally here.”

Although Anderson has finally joined the Nets and cleared quarantine, he won’t be among the players who see action during the team’s first scrimmage on Wednesday. According to Lewis, Jamal Crawford and Tyler Johnson also won’t play in that game — neither will Donta Hall, who remains in quarantine.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Over the weekend, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens downplayed concerns about the status of Kemba Walker‘s knee, per Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Stevens offered an update on his star point guard on Tuesday, telling reporters – including ESPN’s Tim Bontemps – that Walker likely won’t play in the team’s first scrimmage on Friday. “But he’s pretty darn close right now,” Stevens said.
  • Rookie guard Tremont Waters, who is on a two-way contract with the Celtics, suffered a concussion last week, but is in the later stages of the league’s concussion protocol, Stevens told reporters on Monday (link via Justin Leger of NBC Sports Boston).
  • Sixers big man Al Horford will likely be looking at a reduced role this summer, and head coach Brett Brown said on Tuesday that Horford has been “great” in handling that change, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
  • With a full and healthy roster for the first time all season, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse will have plenty of lineup options available to him when play resumes, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. As Blake Murphy of The Athletic relays, Nurse is interested in experimenting with some five-man groups that are heavy on bigs. “It seems to me we started really dominant on the defensive end with the jumbo lineup,” he said.

New York Notes: T. Johnson, M. Jackson, Thibodeau, Randle

It took four years, but Tyler Johnson is finally a member of the Nets and he’s thrilled about the opportunity, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks presented Johnson with a four-year, $50MM offer sheet in 2016, hoping to snare the young guard as part of a rebuilding project.

Johnson’s stock has fallen considerably since Miami chose to match that offer. He has been out of the league since the Suns waived him in February after a disappointing season following knee surgery. The Nets signed him last month to fill one of their many roster openings.

“Maybe I wasn’t at 100 percent. I was working through it, trying to get right,” Johnson said, adding that his knee is now fully healed. “But I didn’t have that pop, that bounce I used to have where I’d try to go up over the top of people. Who knows if that played a role in anything. I don’t put any blame anywhere but myself. At the end of the day I can only control myself. … Unfortunately it didn’t work out. But fortunately, I’m here. I find myself in a position where I can have a little bit of redemption.”

There’s more on the New York teams:

  • There may be hints that Kevin Durant is throwing his support behind Mark Jackson to be the Nets‘ next head coach, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his latest podcast. Windhorst notes that Rich Kleiman, Durant’s friend and business partner, has started tweeting frequently about Jackson, the former Warriors coach and current ABC/ESPN broadcaster.
  • Former player and current agent B.J. Armstrong believes Tom Thibodeau would be an excellent choice as the Knicks‘ head coach, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Armstrong represents Derrick Rose, who played for Thibodeau in Chicago in Minnesota and maintains a tight relationship with the coach. “I always admired how (Thibodeau) coached,’’ Armstrong said. “He brings the fire and the heat. And most importantly, he’s always prepared for the game. He loves the game. He had an excellent career in this league. He made a life commitment to the game. I’ll be really happy for him (if he gets the job).’’
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic looks at how the Knicks might be able to find a better role for Julius Randle if he remains with the team next season. New York is reportedly willing to trade Randle, but his salary may make that difficult in the current financial climate.

Atlantic Notes: T. Johnson, Beasley, Knicks, Raptors

The Nets, already missing seven players from their 15-man roster this summer, are also currently without guard Tyler Johnson, who was signed by the club during the transaction window at the end of June.

Nets general manager Sean Marks said today that Johnson hasn’t accompanied the team to the Walt Disney World campus for personal reasons, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link). However, Marks added that Johnson will join the club in a few days.

When Johnson reports to the NBA’s campus in Orlando, he’ll have to go through a six-day quarantine period, testing negative multiple times for the coronavirus before he’ll be permitted to practice, Lewis adds in a separate tweet. That longer quarantine period applies to any player who arrives after his team has already traveled to Disney and gone through its own initial 36-hour quarantine period.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • New Nets forward Michael Beasley, who will also have to quarantine for six days, is already in the team’s Florida hotel, tweets Lewis. Marks confirmed today that Beasley will have to sit out Brooklyn’s first five games due to his drug suspension from 2019, which he has yet to serve (Twitter link via Lewis). The forward will be eligible to make his Nets debut on August 9 vs. the Clippers, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter).
  • The Knickspreviously-reported head coaching interviews with Tom Thibodeau and Bulls assistant Chris Fleming took place on Thursday, according to reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). Thibodeau and Fleming are two of 11 candidates for the position, as our tracker shows.
  • Raptors rookie Dewan Hernandez, who had been sidelined since December due to a severe ankle sprain, is with the team in Orlando and will be healthy enough to play this summer, tweets Austin Kent of SLAM. Hernandez is unlikely to play meaningful minutes, but will provide added frontcourt depth.

Nets Sign Tyler Johnson, Waive Theo Pinson

JUNE 24: The Nets’ deal with Johnson is now official, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link).

JUNE 23: The Nets have agreed to a deal with free agent guard Tyler Johnson, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter). The club is waiving Theo Pinson to clear a spot on the roster for Johnson, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Johnson, 28, was sent from Miami to Phoenix at the 2019 trade deadline and appeared in 44 total games for the Suns, including 31 this season. Formerly a solid rotation player with the Heat, Johnson had a down year in Phoenix in 2019/20, averaging just 5.7 PPG and 1.6 APG on .380/.289/.750 shooting in 16.6 minutes per contest.

After not finding a deal that used his expiring contract at the trade deadline in February, the Suns waived Johnson a few days later. He has been a free agent since then, though he reportedly drew some interest from the Rockets as well before reaching an agreement with Brooklyn.

As Wojnarowski points out (via Twitter), the Nets were the team that signed Johnson in 2016 to his four-year, $50MM offer sheet (which Miami matched), so they’ve had their eye on him for a while. He’ll help provide depth in a backcourt that will be missing Kyrie Irving when play resumes this summer.

Because injured players aren’t eligible to be replaced by “substitute players” this summer, the Nets had to open up a spot on their 15-man roster in order to add any reinforcements to a roster that will also be without Kevin Durant. They’ll open up that spot by cutting Pinson, a move they confirmed in a press release on Tuesday night.

Pinson, 24, got a guaranteed contract from the Nets this season, but struggled to produce, averaging 3.6 PPG on 2.90/.188/.938 shooting in 33 games (11.1 MPG). The former UNC shooting guard had a minimum-salary team option for 2020/21, so Brooklyn won’t be on the hook for any guaranteed money beyond this season.

Rockets Eyeing Tyler Johnson

The Rockets are considering making a roster move in advance of the resumption of the 2019/20 season, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, who reports that signing Tyler Johnson is one possibility the team has looked at.

Johnson, 28, was sent to Phoenix at the 2019 trade deadline and appeared in 44 total games for the club, including 31 this season. Formerly a solid rotation player in Miami, Johnson had a down year with the Suns in 2019/20, averaging just 5.7 PPG and 1.6 APG on .380/.289/.750 shooting in 16.6 minutes per contest.

After not finding a deal that used his expiring contract at the trade deadline in February, the Suns waived Johnson a few days later. He has been a free agent since then and would be eligible to join a team for the NBA’s summer restart.

If the Rockets want to sign Johnson, they’ll have to open up a roster spot to do so. After signing Jeff Green and DeMarre Carroll on the buyout market, Houston has a full 15-man squad, with both two-way slots used as well.

Feigen doesn’t name a specific player whose roster spot may be in jeopardy if the Rockets make a move. However, Tyson Chandler, Bruno Caboclo, Isaiah Hartenstein, and Thabo Sefolosha are among the players on the roster who have limited roles and aren’t owed guaranteed money beyond this season.

L.A. Notes: LeBron, Johnson, Clippers, Morris

LeBron James‘ name was one of 44 included on USA Basketball’s preliminary list of finalists for the program’s 2020 Olympic roster on Monday. Many of the players on that list won’t get the opportunity to suit up for Team USA in Tokyo, but it’s safe to say that one of the final 12 roster spots will be reserved for James — if he wants it. For now, he’s not ready to fully commit, as Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times relays.

“It’s always predicated on: one, my body, how my body is feeling at the end of the season — I hope to make a long playoff run,” James said. “And then where my mind is and then where my family’s head is. So it’s a lot of factors, but my name is in the hat.”

It was no surprise that James and Anthony Davis were among the 44 names on Team USA’s list on Monday. Kyle Kuzma‘s inclusion wasn’t a shock either, since he participated in the program’s World Cup camp last fall. Two more Lakers were also on the list — JaVale McGee and former Team USA center Dwight Howard.

“Spectacular,” James said of the Lakers having five players on the list. “It’s amazing. We’re very well represented with the Lake Show representing the red, white and blue. So it’s a pretty cool thing.”

Here’s more on the Lakers and their L.A. rivals, the Clippers:

  • After being waived by Phoenix on Monday, Tyler Johnson is on track to clear waivers on Wednesday. Chris Mannix of SI.com writes that both the Lakers and Clippers are “expected to check in” on the veteran guard.
  • Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register examines the Lakers‘ options on the buyout market, suggesting that injured big man DeMarcus Cousins may not be the player released if the team needs a roster spot, since he’s close to Anthony Davis and others on the roster.
  • Speaking of Davis, he told reporters on Monday that he’s confident the Lakers have a championship-caliber roster even after standing pat at the trade deadline (video link via ESPN).
  • The Clippers were active at the deadline, acquiring Marcus Morris from New York in a three-team trade. Jovan Buha of The Athletic spoke to the new Clippers forward about joining a title contender, the team’s 2019 free agent pitch to him, and his fit. “You can put me anywhere,” Morris said. “I can space out really well, give guys space, score it any way. I’m just ready to do what it takes for the team to win. I’m excited to get started, but you’re going to see how well I fit. … I think it’s going to be very beneficial for both sides.”

Suns Waive Tyler Johnson

FEBRUARY 10: The Suns have officially released Johnson, the team confirmed today in a press release.

FEBRUARY 9: The Suns are waiving guard Tyler Johnson, freeing up a roster spot to use in free agency, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Johnson, who has averaged 5.7 points, 1.6 assists and 16.6 minutes in 31 games this season, will become an unrestricted free agent upon clearing waivers. He has missed the last four games with knee soreness and saw his minutes decline in recent weeks. The Suns planned to move on from him after the season and didn’t have a concrete role for him going forward, according to Wojnarowski,

The 27-year-old went undrafted back in 2014 and holds previous experience with the Heat. His best season with Miami came during the 2016/17 campaign where he averaged 13.7 points and four assists per contest, earning a four-year, $50MM deal during the summer.

The Suns have the third-worst record in the Western Conference at 21-32, going 3-7 in their last 10 games. They have upcoming games against the Lakers on Monday and Warriors on Wednesday.