While most of us were busy sleeping, the Sacramento Kings were finishing off a deal to land small forward James Johnson from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for a 2014 2nd round pick. ESPN’s Marc Stein first reported the deal, but it has since been confirmed by our friend Sam Amick of SI.com as well as others.
The Kings have just confirmed the acquisition through an official press release. Here is Geoff Petrie, Kings President of Basketball Operations’ quote on the transaction.
“We’re excited to add a talent like James to our young nucleus of players,” said Petrie. “He’s an outstanding defender with athleticism who can play at both positions up front while providing some versatility offensively and adding a dimension to what we can do on the floor.”
Johnson is an interesting prospect. Taken 16th overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, he is moving on to his third team in four seasons. The 6-foot-9 245-pound Johnson started 40 games last season for the Raptors, posting up 9.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, two assists, 1.4 blocks and a steal in 25 minutes per game.
With the addition of Landry Fields in the off-season, Johnson and his $2.8 million dollar salary became expendable. While he isn’t the dead-eye shooter the Kings are looking for on the perimeter, his 31.7 percent shooting from distance is better than any of the Kings other small forward options. At 25-years old, Johnson might still have some room to grow, but he is a player that really fills up the stat sheet and his ability to block shots as a help defender is something the Kings need desperately.
Overall, this looks like a quality budget pick-up for the Kings. They still have some cap room to play with, but that would require freeing up a roster spot or two. With Johnson in tow, this might mean the end of the Terrence Williams experiment with the Kings.
Below is video of James Johnson from his interview with the Kings during the 2009 draft process.