The Phoenix Suns pay Tyler Johnson a lot of money to play basketball, so why are they, instead, paying him a lot of money to sit on the bench?
Tyler Johnson started the season off backing up Devin Booker at shooting guard. The move made since for this new-look Phoenix Suns team. With four point guards on the roster, there was no reason to need Johnson for that role, which he played a lot last year out of necessity.
As do most plans of mice and men, this went awry.
Now, after the return (or shall I say debut?) of Ty Jerome, Johnson finds himself on the bench and out of the rotation altogether.
The main question is why.
If you only know the salary of one player on the Phoenix Suns’ roster, it is probably Tyler Johnson. The neck-bearded lefty will make $19.25 million in this, his final year of a putrid contract.
Well, not putrid for him, I’m sure. He is probably loving it. But for the Suns, it is as putrid as a Filibertos dumpster in mid-August.
But if the Suns made him the second highest paid player on the team, he should definitely play, right?
Well he has, and Johnson is, by nearly every metric, having the worst season of his career since his rookie campaign. He is averaging just 6.5 points, 2.2 assists, and 1.8 rebounds per game, down from his career average of 10.7/2.5/3.2.
As down as these numbers are, they are slightly better than the Suns’ other backup point guards, so on the surface, it would make sense for Johnson to be on the floor.
- After Johnson picked up his player option for the final year of his contract, he thought, “I was hoping he didn’t do that, but I get it. Man’s gotta eat.”
- But then, “It’s okay, he can backup Booker and ride out his contract that way.”
- After several games, “Wow, he’s really not playing well at all. That stinks.”
- Also, “Yeah, but neither is Carter and Okobo. And now Jerome and Rubio are hurt. Better throw him at point guard.”
- After a few more games, “He is kind of stinking at this too.”
- And finally:
“If we want to bring in a big time player (like Kevin Love), we will need to trade him because his contract makes almost any trade go through money-wise. Let’s just sit him before he plays any worse and hurts his trade value more than he already has. With a limited sample size, we can chalk up his bad numbers to a new system. Or…whatever. Plus, this will give the young guys we invested in a chance to see meaningful minutes and develop.”
So there you have it. My Freudian illustration on why Tyler Johnson will likely remain on the bench until he is either traded or the season ends.
Sure, he might play sporadically here and there like he did against the Houston Rockets, but at this point in the season, barring another injury to Rubio, Booker, etc., he will likely stay hidden under his hood on the bench.