Suns guard Tyler Johnson has reportedly exercised his $19.25 million option for 2019-20, leading social media pundits to wonder: How in the world did Johnson score a contract worth that much?
ESPN reported Johnson exercised the option and will return to Phoenix next season, but really, it was unreasonable to think he would opt out and try his luck in free agency. Johnson earned the 46th highest salary in the NBA last season, according to ESPN. To put that figure in perspective, he made more than veterans such as Draymond Green ($17.5 million) and Tobias Harris ($14.8 million) and almost as much as guards Jimmy Butler ($20.4 million) and Kyrie Irving ($20.1 million).
Johnson, who scored 10.9 points per game and shot 41.3 percent from the field last season, can be a useful player, but he’s not Kyrie Irving or Jimmy Butler.
Yet you can’t blame Johnson for signing a contract rewarding him beyond his skill set. And you can’t blame the Suns, either. The Suns are already under fire for what many observers are calling a lackluster draft Thursday, but they got Johnson’s contract when they acquired him in a trade with the Heat in February.
And really, you can’t blame the Heat for giving him that deal in July 2016. The league’s salary cap was jumping from $70 million to $94 million for the 2016-17 season and money was burning a hole in the pockets of many NBA GMs. Several other teams, notably the Nets, were reportedly pursuing Johnson in that price range, so the Heat jumped.
Social media users were quick to the meme after news broke that Johnson was exercising his option.
— Valley of the Suns (@ValleyoftheSuns) June 21, 2019
4 years ago I joked to my mom that Tyler Johnson would some day make 20 million a year to try to explain to her that NBA contracts are outrageous. https://t.co/1eMIhAt8fA
— Rob Wallaby (@RobWallaby) June 21, 2019
Imagine having to pay Tyler Johnson 19.25M to play basketball in the NBA.
— CINCY (@Nati_Sports) June 21, 2019
Suns Fans for the next week. pic.twitter.com/VUqPL1IZUs
— Omar Wen (@omarwhen) June 21, 2019
Tyler Johnson pic.twitter.com/ETEiST8myg
— IVG (@ivaldivgnz) June 21, 2019