Tyler Johnson will be one of the handful of new faces suiting up for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA restart later this month.
Ironically, Johnson signed a four-year, $50 million offer sheet with the Nets in 2016, but the Miami Heat matched the contract, as the guard was a restricted free agent.
Johnson is “ecstatic” to finally be playing for the Nets (quotes per Brian Lewis of the New York Post).
“My mom still says Sean is one of her favorite people of all time. We’re very fortunate to be in this position. I signed that offer sheet four years ago, so I was ready at that time to become a Net,” Johnson said, referring to a restricted free agent offer sheet.
“Obviously we know the story, Miami matched it. But … we were very interested in what was being built here. So we actually did sign that offer sheet and I was ecstatic when we got that call to come back over here.”
Nets interim head coach Jacque Vaughn says Johnson “fit into the description of what a Net is.”
“I did meet Tyler and overall impression was this was a guy we’d love to have with us in our organization, a guy that understands what it means to play and consider more than just himself when he’s on the floor. So he fit into the description of what a Net is,” Vaughn said.”
“Part of life’s twists and turns. We get him a little later, and fortunate to have him on the team now.”
The Heat traded Johnson to the Phoenix Suns two and a half seasons into his four-year deal. The Suns released Johnson in February.
Johnson ponders whether he was “100 percent” in Phoenix.
“Maybe I wasn’t at 100 percent. I was working through it, trying to get right. 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,” said Johnson, adding his knee is OK now. “I don’t put any blame anywhere but myself. At the end of the day I can only control myself.”
Johnson views being with the Nets as a chance at “redemption.”
“Obviously it didn’t work out the way I would’ve wanted. There was a handful of things that could’ve gone better, not necessarily being anybody’s fault. Coming in and having the quick change, it took a long time for everyone to get on the same page. 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.”
Johnson averaged 5.7 points and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 38.0 percent from the field across 31 games with the Suns this season.