Free agent guard Tyler Johnson, who was waived by the Phoenix Suns in February, is drawing interest from the Houston Rockets as the team eyes an end-of-July resumption to the 2019-20 season, according to The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen.
The 6-foot-3 Johnson did not join another team before coronavirus suspended play on March 11 but reportedly received interest from the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.
The Suns acquired Johnson in a trade with the Miami Heat in the middle of the 2018-19 season. That trade shipped out forward Ryan Anderson and thrust Johnson, a backup off-ball guard, into a new role as the starting point guard to finish the one year led by head coach Igor Kokoskov.
With the Suns under first-year head coach Monty Williams in 2019-20, Johnson slid to the bench behind Ricky Rubio and Devin Booker. He averaged 5.7 points and 1.6 assists while shooting 38% from the field in 16.6 minutes per game.
Johnson struggled to find a role due to his shooting woes and injuries that bumped him between backup shooting guard and point guard.
It was the first time since 2015-16 that the 28-year-old combo guard hadn’t averaged double-figure points.
Phoenix released Johnson — he was on a $19.2 million expiring deal — after the trade deadline to open a roster spot and potentially get a look at another player.
“To Tyler’s credit, he’s been phenomenal — he’s been phenomenal with our guys,” Suns GM James Jones told Burns & Gambo on Arizona Sports after the move. “He worked every day, he put his body on the line. He’s a guy that plays only at one speed. After we got through the deadline, we thought about it and said, as we approach the All-Star break and approach the opportunity to get healthy coming out of the All-Star break, is there an opportunity for us to improve our team?”
The Rockets would need to waive a player to add Johnson, Feigen notes.
If he were to join Houston, Johnson would join a backcourt led by James Harden and Russell Westbrook and fight for minutes alongside reserves Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers.
As a player who had an NBA contract this year, Johnson is eligible to join one of the 22 teams who hope to resume the 2019-20 season at Disney World in Orlando.