Wesley Johnson joins Steve Nash and Lakers


Phoenix Suns free agent Wesley Johnson has agreed to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers where he’ll receive the veteran’s minimum worth around $1 million, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Mike Bresnahan.

Indeed, Johnson was one of few welcome surprises toward the end of last season, but the writing was essentially on the wall for him once former general manager Lance Blanks was canned at the end of the season. There wasn’t a peep from the Suns this summer about re-signing the swingman who averaged 8.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in 2012-13.

With a roster already filled to the brim with many players either locked into contracts or drafted by the new look front office, there was little reason to bring back the fourth pick from the 2010 NBA Draft.

This isn’t about giving other team’s failed picks chances anymore, especially when those picks had multiple glaring holes in their games. Johnson may have been one of the Suns’ best jump-shooters last season, but that says little on one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA. He did help his cause by proving himself a capable creator of his own shot, if only because he could get it off over almost anyone. But Johnson never showed that he had any ability to penetrate, nor the aptitude to play defense consistently.

If anything, it’s a wonder if Blanks even saw promise with Johnson. He did show up to the introductory press conference, a sign he thought highly of the swingman who came in a package that sent Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick to New Orleans. Phoenix didn’t give Johnson a shot at the beginning of the year to prove his value, and thus the team passed on picking up a team option for the 2013-14 season.

But in the deal, the Suns did get a first-round draft pick and shed salary space with Warrick’s contract , which wouldn’t have come off the books until next summer.

So Johnson goes off to the Lakers, where he’ll have a chance to play on a roster badly needing shooters. Steve Nash and Pau Gasol will get him looks, and with Metta World Peace gone and Kobe Bryant potentially out past the season opener, there’s no reason to think he couldn’t develop into a solid rotation player alongside fellow free agent signee Nick Young.

  • Azbballfan

    Will be a good signing for the soon-to-be-rebuilding Lakers

    No Kobe for a while, they got nothing for MWP and D-12 and earl clark either and no first round picks until something like 2017

    time to see if that front office can reload with talent, or were they just lucky the last time the team was really good

    i feel bad for Steve Nash if the Lakers are bad next year, however their fan base is easily the most stuck up in the NBA they deserve to be put through a few miserable years

  • a-game

    One word….scrub! Go on lakers, take’m…

  • ArcaneFreeze

    @azbballfan

    Lakers dont rebuild, they reload. Coming from a Suns fan it’d be stupid to think that they’re gonna be in full blown rebuilding mode, we’ve seen them falter like this before and in the end they still nearly got the best of us in the playoffs. Kobe’s on track to be back for the season opener(not as surprising as it sounds). In the mean time they’ve loaded up with young, athletic, shooters who can space the floor and work in D’Antoni’s system. Last season from what I saw Dwight was the big chemistry killer for the team. With him gone I’d expect their chemistry to click alot better. Health is really the only big concern now and if they can stay healthy they’re still a scary team.

    Dwight and MWP left them ample amounts of cap space for next season to sign two max contract players, and this isn’t Dallas, its LA. Stars will go there its inevitable.

  • Mel.

    Anybody suggesting that the Lakers don’t “rebuild” apparently considers NBA time to be glacial. They had a five-year run of middling returns in the years after Magic retired (for the first time) and Jordan’s Bulls took over, then didn’t convert the Shaq signing into anything until Phil moved in and took over in 1999. That’s nearly a decade of sub-par returns on major contracts, a fact which is always obfuscated by the elite decade that followed.

    They’ll eventually get back to a competitive level, but not with Kobe Bean Albatross talking about wanting fifteen to twenty million and “prima nocta” rights until he retires, and not in the same “fling money at it until it goes away” fashion that’s survived them before. The only guy who apparently has no problem doing that is Mikhail Prokhorov, and I’m still not entirely sure that he’s not a robot.

  • foreveris2long

    Lakers have their first round pick next summer. We have their 1st round pick in 2015.

  • DBreezy

    About what I thought he’d get paid.

  • foreveris2long

    Yeah that is true DBreezy. I thought he could get at least $3m/yr. I was sure wrong on that.

  • Scott

    As far as Johnson’s salary goes, I’m glad to see someone is paying a sensible figure.

    When Brown couldn’t get a job in the US, Blanks bailed him out with $7m over 2 years.

  • Tony

    Those who think the Lakers will be garbage next season are seriously underestimating them. The Lakers will be better off without Dwight Howard, who is an overrated big with extremely limited basketball skills. When he was younger and before his back injury, his superior athletic ability compensated for his inferior offensive post game.

    Moreover, because Kobe is likely to be out for at least a portion of the season, D’Antoni and Nash will be able to run their system without the selfish blackhole Bryant monopolizing the ball .

    As for the Suns, I’m curious as to Suns fans’ opinions about whether the Suns plan on keeping Dragic or are they more enamored with Bledsoe? I know they want both to play together, but I don’t see a Dragic-Bledsoe backcourt being effective at all. In particular, neither are very good shooters, both rely on their athletic ability to get to the basket, and because Bledsoe is too small to play sg, so moving Dragic to sg will make the Suns under-sized at sg.

    All in all, Dragic is currently a better player than Bledsoe, but unlike Bledsoe, Dragic’s already hit his prime and is unlikely to get appreciable better. Bledsoe’s athleticism and potential may make it difficult for the Suns FO to deal him instead of Dragic, when it becomes obvious that they are not a good pair to play together.

  • Scott

    The Bucks are hesitant to sign Jennings. Maybe they’d like to go a different direction and deal for a more pure PG like Marshall?

    I’d trade Marshall for Milwaukee’s Antetokounmpo.

    Or, if a multi-team trade is done, I’d take any of a variety of other players. And for backup PG, I’d prefer the Suns to have Schroeder or McCallum over Marshall anyway.

    This might be the best time to trade Marshall, as the Suns have both Bledsoe and Dragic, who can start and finish together and trade off at PG during the middle of the game.

    Or Goodwin could be used as PG alongside Brown at SG.

    Yes, Marshall is excellent at what he does, but it’s important to have active defense and scoring along with all the assists. I’m not confident Marshall will ever feel the need to develop his game while he’s with the Suns.

    It seems some players need to be traded in order to really develop their game.

  • Rdway

    Here’s another headline where I wish the name was changed…

    I wish the Suns kept Wesley Johnson and, in his stead, Shannon Brown (re-)joins the Lakers.

    Not that the Suns owe the Lakers any favors, but I am sure the Lakers would be delighted with Brown’s return.

    On the other hand, I would have liked to see this roster for the Suns next season:

    PG – Bledsoe, Marshall
    SG – Dragic, Goodwin
    SF – Butler, Johnson, Tucker
    PF – Scola, Beasley, Morris, Morris
    C – Gortat, Len, Frye

    At the guard spots, we have four young guys who can showcase their talents and prove that they can work as a tough four-player rotating back-court unit.

    At the forward spots, we have two veteran starters in Butler and Scola who can mentor the guys behind them for one whole season (or until the trade deadline).

    And at the center slot, we have Gortat to serve as placeholder until Len develops into a pro.

    Oh well, wishful thinking again as an armchair GM.

  • Scott

    I should also give a shout-out to one of my other PG interests, Raul Neto, who played well in OSL for Utah.

    Nemanja Nedovic, who is projected to play PG but I think might be better at SG, hasn’t played yet (to the best of my knowledge) due to a sprained ankle.

  • DBreezy

    Re the Lakers being garbage next season, I suppose that will all depend on one’s definition of garbage. They aren’t contenders, but if they’re relatively healthy it wouldn’t surprise me if they had a solid season. If they muddle around near .500 during the inevitable easy early schedule the league will give them, it wouldn’t surprise me if they push for a bottom playoff seed.

    What’s gone unsaid in ESPN’s nonstop Dwightmare coverage, is that the rest of the Lakers didn’t mutiny on D’Antoni. Now that he’s gone, Nash and others have noted how Dwight never really bought in and they still won 45 games despite a ton of player games missed due to injury. Pau hasn’t been happy with any coach since Phil elected to emphasize Bynum inside instead of him. That’s not a problem when the other bigs are Jordan Hill and Kaman. While I don’t think we’re going to see a true flashback, I expect Nash will have a bounceback season of sorts that could mesh with the standard D’Antoni bounce that guys like Nick Young and Farmar might get.

  • https://twitter.com/True_Rys Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    http://www.brightsideofthesun.com/2013/7/15/4524256/the-marshall-plan-slow-steady

    I know most of us want to throw Ken-Doll away, but as I wrote above, I actually think he fits nicely into the plans of what the Suns are currently doing.

    I don’t really see him being pushed out by the signings of Goodwin or Bledsoe. i think his skill set meshes well with the types of players those guys and Dragon, AND Len are.

    I think he enhances all of those guys and i don’t see it as a bad thing if he gets the opportunity to grow with the other youngsters in house.

  • Scott

    @Rich -

    Marshall has a high IQ and skills, but I’m beginning to come to the conclusion he’s another talented but fundamentally broken pick made by Blanks.

    The Suns need talent and effort. They don’t need lazy headcases.

    It increasingly sounds like Marshall is thinking he’s doing more than he really is, and he’s not willing to be coached. I’ve been in his corner all this time and want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t like it that he’s tuning out Hornacek, as I believe Hornacek actually knows what he’s talking about.

    As for being “pushed out” by the other PGs, IMO the current PG situation just provides cover, where the FO can claim they had too many young players capable of playing PG, so they had to trade Marshall.

  • Foreveris2long

    Knowing the price the Lakers got Johnson for I definitely wish the Suns had kept him. However I know he could conceivably take time away from the development of Goodwin so I understand.

    As for Marshall, I still wish we had drafted Henson at power forward instead. I had been begging for the Suns to draft Henson/Lamb if they became available. Henson is going to be a good power forward in this league. Thank you Blanks for blowing it again.

  • Zack B.

    Lol at SB not being able to get a job in the US. As if PHX were the ONLY team interested in him.