Play-by-play man Ian Eagle, who is as plugged in on the Nets as anyone given that he’s been around the organization for several years, mentioned the possibility during his appearance on a YES Network podcast.
“I wouldn’t be shocked if he came off the bench this year,” Eagle said. “That would not shock me in the least bit.”
In that role, Johnson, 34, could anchor the second unit -- coming in fresh against the opponent’s reserves -- while still closing out games as the team’s go-to guy late in the fourth quarter.
Johnson, entering his 15th NBA season, has started 992 of the 1,062 career games he has played. He has not come off the bench since the 2003-04 campaign, when he was with Phoenix.
He did, however, anchor the second unit with much success under previous Nets coaches Avery Johnson and Jason Kidd. And it’s possible that Lionel Hollins could look to utilize him in similar fashion.
Kidd ran a lot of the offense through Johnson in the low post, enabling him to either post-up shorter players or become a playmaker when he gets double-teamed.
Johnson, however, does not prefer to be a defender in the low post and get banged around by bigger-bodied players. At this point in his career, he certainly has a lot of mileage on his body, and has dealt with unpredictable tendinitis in recent years.
Last season was definitely frustrating for Johnson. The hope is that he will be much happier going into 2015-16.
Johnson is in the final year of his contract, and will be paid $24.9 million. If the Nets aren’t in playoff contention, it’s possible they would look to either trade him or buy him out by the deadline so he could chase a championship with a contender.