Report: Nets’ Cam Johnson could easily top $20 million per year in new contract

Cam Johnson, Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets are still angling for a postseason run while evaluating the roster with some big decisions to make in the offseason.

One of them is whether to commit to a large contract with Cam Johnson, who is set to become a restricted free agency this summer.

Johnson has solidified his starting role with the Nets since he arrived at the trade deadline with Mikal Bridges in the Kevin Durant blockbuster trade. While his shooting has still left much to be desired, he’s been the team’s third-best scorer behind Bridges and Spencer Dinwiddie.

Johnson is the only Nets starter who has netted a positive plus-minus (+7) over their last 11 games. The 6-foot-8 Johnson has topped the 20-point mark thrice with one 30-point game as he averages 17.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists while shooting 34.1 percent from deep. That is expected to rise as the 39.2-percent career three-point shooter gets comfortable within Jacque Vaughn’s system.

A starter-level 3-and-D player commands premium pay in the league’s current market. His value goes beyond the court. Johnson has an astute basketball mind and carries himself well off the court, a whiff of fresh air for the Nets, who have had enough of drama from their superstar era. But on top of that, Johnson has cultivated a great bond with Bridges, who appears to be on the cusp of stardom.

Considering everything in, Johnson may be worth more than the one he turned down in Phoenix. The Suns have reportedly offered Johnson a four-year contract extension worth between $66 and $72 million.

So, Johnson is looking for more.

Bridges earned a $90 million, four-year extension before he got traded. With Bridges having a more significant upside, Johnson shouldn’t be worth more than the Nets’ rising star.

A sweet spot of a four-year $80 million deal, with a player option on the last year, could bring Johnson back based on his estimated value around the league.

But his tight relationship with Bridges, positional value and status as part of the Durant deal make him hard to let escape. A 6-foot-8 wing who can shoot 40 percent from deep with solid defense will command top dollar. Sources say his floor is $18 million annually, and could easily top $20 million. And with a new leaguewide TV deal kicking in after 2024-25, it’ll make the end of Johnson’s contract a smaller cut of whatever the salary cap becomes.

Brian Lewis via New York Post

With the Nets looking to untangle the glut of wings on their roster in the offseason, Johnson projects to be the top priority.

One of them or both veterans Royce O’Neale, and Joe Harris are expected to be dangled in potential trades for backcourt depth.

O’Neale has a $2.5 million partial guarantee to his $9.5 million salary next season, which becomes fully guaranteed one month before next season’s trade deadline. Harris has an expiring $19.9 million salary.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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