The Phoenix Suns have just lately finalized plenty of long-term contracts that solidifies the core of the staff for the foreseeable long term. Next up for negotiation is backup ahead Cameron Johnson, who’s eligible for extension as he enters the fourth and ultimate 12 months of his eminently reasonably priced rookie-scale contract.
Over the previous 12 months, the Suns have dedicated to Devin Booker for 6 years via 2028 and to the tandem of Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges for the following 4 years via 2026. All, like Cam, are 26 years outdated or more youthful and simply now coming into their half-decade primes as NBA gamers.
With the ones 3 gamers factored in, the Suns are already projected to be over the league-mandated wage cap for each the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons and there’s most effective six (or fewer) gamers accounting for it in the ones seasons.
*Salary cap estimates for 2023+ are estimates and gained’t be finalized till the start of every league 12 months
A brand new Cameron Johnson contract would start within the 2023-24 season, blowing during a lot of the distance between the cap and the posh tax threshold. With most effective six gamers below contract — Booker, Paul, Ayton, Bridges, Shamet and Payne — the Suns are already set to exceed the wage cap*, leaving them most effective about $24 million prior to hitting the posh tax threshold. Johnson’s cap grasp itself can be $17 million of that if he doesn’t signal and extension.
*There’s at all times caveats: Paul’s and Payne’s contracts are most effective in part assured, however I’m counting the entire thing as a result of they are going to both be at the roster or their wage will likely be changed by means of any person else. Sure, the Suns can get lovely and discover a starter and backup at PG for much less than $36 million blended, however that’s an issue for some other day. Not lately.
Teams can proceed to spend over the wage cap by means of the use of negotiated exceptions (mid-level unfastened agent exception, unfastened salary-matching in trades, extensions/new contracts to incumbent gamers usually known as Bird Rights, and so forth.), however sooner or later they’re charged a ‘luxury tax’ for the privilege.
The NBA’s wage cap is sort of a pace prohibit at the freeway, the place the posted pace prohibit acts because the minimal pace for 95% people, with a 7-ish mile-per-hour buffer prior to we begin getting large consequences within the type of rushing tickets.
The Suns are already one among 11 groups set to pay a luxurious tax this season, which lately provides as much as over $620 million throughout the ones 11 groups. If that quantity stands during the finish of the season, that $620 million will likely be divvied up some of the league place of business and the opposite 19 groups who stayed below the edge.
Assuming the Suns don’t blow up their roster (they gained’t), they’re set to pay simply over $34 million in luxurious tax bills after this season. Well at the back of the Clippers ($144 million) and Warriors ($158 million), however nonetheless the sixth maximum within the league and more than two times as a lot luxurious tax because the Suns have spent all the way through historical past because the tax was once first presented in 1999. The first 5 of the ones years have been below Jerry Colangelo and the final 17 were below Robert Sarver.
The large fear now could be the looming ‘repeater’ tax. It’s conceivable that groups would keep endlessly within the luxurious tax zone, with the exception of that their consequences skyrocket in the event that they keep in that zone for 3 immediately seasons. The Suns are lately set to just do that for the primary time ever if they retain Cam Johnson (limited unfastened agent) and Chris Paul (partial ensure) round for each seasons.
I’m most effective specializing in 2023-24 and 2024-25 at this time as a result of a brand new television-rights deal will kick in for the 2025+ seasons that may no less than double the wage cap and make us all omit concerning the luxurious tax no less than for a few seasons till league-wide participant salaries catch up.
In the intervening time, each greenback they pay Cam Johnson is a greenback nearer to that luxurious tax and the scary repeater tax that might follow on the finish of the 3rd of this upcoming three-season stretch.
How a lot can Cam get?
“We’re having discussions,” Jones stated. “Cam is a large a part of what we do. Really excited for the growth he’s proven over the previous couple of years, particularly final 12 months. I feel he’s primed to take some steps ahead.
He’s indubitably any person we’re going to wish to have take some other step if we need to proceed to growth and develop as a gaggle.”
Speaking of taking some other step, we at Bright Side have run a chain of ‘Big Leap’ articles just lately on which Suns participant enhancements may make an actual distinction in some other Finals push. Cam Johnson is a type of gamers.
Can Cam Johnson stay bettering? Of direction. He’s already a perfect three-point shooter with a handy guide a rough liberate who, at the catch, can get the shot off sooner than a defender can deal with. He’s additionally a league-average defender, which is peculiar for a perfect shooter, and is bettering his ball-handling abilities every 12 months.
A just right comparability can be Utah’s Bojan Bogdanovic, who makes $19 million as an 18-points-per-game starter for the previous a number of seasons doing a large number of what Cam does. The most effective distinction is the beginning pedigree and the whole shot makes an attempt.
Take a take a look at Bojan, Cam and incumbent Suns starter Jae Crowder, on a per-36-minutes and per-100-possessions foundation.
Jae makes $10 million this 12 months and Bojan makes $19 million this 12 months. The distinction between Bojan and Jae, statistically, is their offensive recreation. Jae is much better defensively, however it’s offense that will get paid. Just ask DA and Book.
Cam’s stats have stepped forward 12 months over 12 months since becoming a member of the league 3 seasons in the past, changing into an more and more higher a part of the Suns top-five offense.
His most effective problem, contract-wise, is that he’s no longer a real, full-time starter. Players like Cam who come off the bench have a ceiling on their contract that averages round $16 million according to 12 months.
From this team, gamers like Jerami Grant, Derrick White and Marcus Smart have been both signed to change into a full-time starter or had the task looking ahead to them already.
However, Cam Johnson does no longer have any starter task within the bag, but. He’s nonetheless a deficient rebounder (profession prime 4.1 forums in 26 mins according to recreation final 12 months) and would flank Deandre Ayton with some other deficient rebounder in Mikal Bridges (profession prime 4.3 rebounds according to recreation in 2020-21).
The Suns are already slightly ok in rebounding — thirteenth (of 30 groups) in rebounding proportion within the common season, then losing to tenth (of 16) within the playoffs final 12 months — so striking Cam Johnson within the beginning lineup would most effective make issues worse.
Incumbent starter Jae Crowder is starting to decline simply as Cam enters a freelance 12 months, however Jae remains to be a greater rebounder (5.3 according to recreation final 12 months) and more stalwart defender in opposition to larger warring parties.
Cam’s highest career-long place would possibly simply be Sixth Man so long as he’s taking part in with Mikal Bridges and Devin Booker, regardless that the Suns would possibly give him that energy ahead function this season anyway.
If Johnson indicators an extension q4 — time limit isn’t till past due October — the quantity will virtually unquestionably height out round $16 million according to 12 months. That would line him up with identical bench shooters like Kevin Huerter, Luke Kennard and Doug McDermott.
You can perceive why Cam would possibly somewhat be in comparison to Bojan Bogdanovic, Collin Sexton and Anfernee Simons. That’s what makes the approaching 2022-23 season so necessary for Cam. If he can earn a full-time beginning task by means of the top of the season, his new contract may soar into a brand new tier of starters — beneath the max, however neatly into the $20 million according to 12 months vary.
Just this summer time by myself, plenty of new contracts have been signed by means of younger starters starting from Mitchell Robinson’s $15 million according to 12 months to Jalen Brunson’s $26 million according to 12 months.
And then simply final week, Cam’s 2019 Draft were given its first below-max extension at the books when R.J. Barrett signed a 4 12 months, $107 million extension with the New York Knicks. Barrett’s contract has incentives to push it to $120 million, a $30 million common annual price.
Where does Cam rank amongst those guys?
Is he higher than Collin Sexton, who simply were given $18 million according to 12 months to switch Donovan Mitchell as an undersized scoring guard for the Utah Jazz? Or Lu Dort, who were given $18 million from the Thunder? They each principally were given the bad-team bump for being one of the crucial two in point of fact just right gamers on a tanking staff.
Is he higher than Anfernee Simons, who were given $25 million according to 12 months to change into Damian Lillard’s newest undersized taking pictures spouse?
I don’t assume Cam Johnson would signal a $16 million according to 12 months extension q4 as a super-sub off the bench if he thinks he may earn a beginning task this coming season and get $20+ million subsequent summer time in limited unfastened company.
Sure, there’s an harm chance occupied with ready, however another way it’s merely about being the final individual to blink. A 12 months in the past, Mikal Bridges took the great money — many idea his extension was once a thieve for the Suns — whilst Deandre Ayton waited a 12 months longer to get nice money.
Will Cam Johnson cross the way in which of Mikal and take much less for long-term safety?
Or will he wait it out like Deandre Ayton, and power the Suns into matching a larger contract subsequent summer time?