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Tyler Johnson exercises $19.25 million player option with Phoenix Suns

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Johnson opts in, but is he staying around?

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Tyler Johnson has opted in to the final year of his contract worth $19.25 million.

After Phoenix acquired Johnson in a swap at the trade deadline for Ryan Anderson, he went on to help guide the Suns to their most successful run of the season. Johnson’s defensive-minded profile fit well alongside Devin Booker, and his calming presence helped lead to shocking wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors within the same week.

During his 13-game stint for the Suns, 12 starts, Johnson averaged 11.1 points, 4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.1 steals in 31.2 minutes.

Now, the question is whether Johnson will even play for Phoenix next season. If the Suns want to open up more cap space, which makes plenty of sense after walking out of the NBA draft with less flexibility, Johnson could be on the chopping block along with Josh Jackson, De’Anthony Melton and Elie Okobo.

As it relates to Johnson, two scenarios are possible to create more flexibility. Stretching Johnson’s contract would give the Suns $11.9 million in relief immediately, but it would be three years of paying $6.4 million instead. If Phoenix wants to trade Johnson, expect future draft picks of their own to be sent out. Dealing the veteran combo guard into another team’s space provides James Jones and Co. significant wiggle room in free agency to chase top point guards on the open market.

Earlier this month, though, new Suns head coach Monty Williams said on 98.7 FM he was ‘excited’ about what Johnson brings to the roster.

“I’m really excited about Tyler. I think Tyler’s a guy who has been in a winning program and he brings intangibles to the team that really excite me.”

Will Johnson still be on the roster in a few weeks time? It’s going to be a crazy offseason, so stay tuned to Bright Side for all the latest updates.