Discover more from The Rose Garden Report
Blazers Pick Up Keon Johnson's Third-Year Option Amid Impressive Training Camp
The second-year guard has been the surprise of training camp.
On Thursday afternoon, the Trail Blazers took care of some expected business, picking up second-year guard Keon Johnson's option for the 2023-24 season as first reported by ESPN.
The Trail Blazers are picking up the 2023-2024 option for guard Keon Johnson, sources tell ESPN. Johnson played 25 minutes a game after arriving in trade with the Clippers last season. He was the 21st pick in the 2021 draft.
Oct 6, 2022
1.35K Likes 129 Retweets 72 Replies
The move itself is a formality, but it comes while Johnson is in the midst of a strong training camp. It caught everyone's attention on media day when Damian Lillard said Johnson had the "most impressive" summer of any of the team's less-heralded young players, coming off a strong Summer League.
Through the Blazers' two preseason games, he's been Portland's first sub off the bench, playing significant minutes other teams' rotation players and not looking fazed or uncomfortable.
"I'm just trying to figure everything out," Johnson told me after the Blazers' Tuesday night preseason loss to the Jazz. "I've been practicing pretty well, but everything is different come game time, so I'm just trying to feel my way out."
The Rose Garden Report is a fully independent, reader-supported publication. Purchasing a premium subscription unlocks exclusive content and helps make the coverage of the Portland Trail Blazers the best it can be.
Johnson, the No. 21 overall pick in the 2021 draft, came over to the Blazers along with Justise Winslow in the trade that sent Norm Powell and Robert Covington to the Clippers. He didn't play much in the first half of his rookie season in Los Angeles, but got significant run as the Blazers tanked and played young players following the trade deadline. He was a part of the Summer League championship run and stayed in Portland for much of the offseason to work out at the team's practice facility.
"This summer, I just took it all back to the basics. I had a full year under my belt so I kind of knew what to expect coming into year two, and areas I needed to improve on. Making open shots and defending my tail off. I felt like if I do that, I'll be able to play whenever my name is called."
Despite Johnson's impressive camp, it remains to be seen where the opportunities will be for him to get real minutes once the season tips off on Oct. 19. With Lillard and Anfernee Simons starting and Josh Hart and Gary Payton II expected to get significant minutes off the bench, the Blazers' guard depth may make it difficult for him to get off the bench.
"The league is always changing, so you have to stay ready, whether that's mentally or physically," Johnson said. "That's something I didn't really take advantage of in my first year, so I'm trying to do that now."