Will the Phoenix Suns pay Cameron Johnson this offseason?

Phoenix Suns, Cameron Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Cameron Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

The Phoenix Suns have had a solid offseason to date, most notably re-signing starting center Deandre Ayton and committing to superstar Devin Booker on a four-year supermax extension.

Now, with Ayton’s contract pushing the Suns into the luxury tax for the first time since 2009-10, owner Robert Sarver might need to open his pockets even further.

Phoenix Suns’ forward Cameron Johnson is eligible for an extension from his rookie contract, with the team having previously exercised his team option for next season at $5.9 million.

Having recommitted to two members of their young core, will the Phoenix Suns pay Johnson or, like they did with Ayton, let him enter restricted free agency?

Having entered the NBA after five years of college, one could assume the 26-year-old will want to maximise his value given his relative late start to professional basketball.

There’s a couple of key questions the Suns will consider before determining Johnson’s value. Firstly, given his advanced age for someone who’s just completed their third season, how much further development does he project to have left? Then, as part of this, when do they consider moving him into a starting role?

Of course, this is a two-way decision. Johnson should want further assurances from the franchise on top of just the financial element. At what point does he replace Jae Crowder in the starting five?

Johnson’s expectations have been set by what similar calibre players have received across the league. This is something Bleacher Report’s Jake Fisher has outlined in a recent article following the four-year, $80 million extension to Spurs’ forward Keldon Johnson.

"“Deals for Davis Bertans, Duncan Robinson and Joe Harris would also represent friendly contract comparisons for Johnson’s next deal. Furthermore, there’s an argument to be made that Phoenix’s standout wing is more than just a shooter and can bring off-the-dribble playmaking and additional defensive chops at a legitimate 6-foot-8”."

When you match up Johnson with the above players, it’s difficult not see him getting around the same figures. Elite three-point shooters get paid in today’s modern NBA. The former number 11 overall pick has stamped himself as such, at least from an off-ball perspective.

Phoenix Suns, Cameron Johnson
Phoenix Suns, Cameron Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

After shooting an insane 44.6% from deep during the Suns playoff run to the NBA Finals, Johnson backed it up by knocking down 42.5% across 66 regular season games in 2021-22.

In 183 outings across three seasons in Phoenix, Johnson has averaged 10.4 points and 3.6 rebounds in just over 24 minutes per game.

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If the Suns don’t come to the table with at least a four-year, $72 million contract ($18 million per season), then expect to see Johnson bet on himself and enter restricted free agency next offseason.