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.