By R.L. Bynum
Cameron Johnson’s first season as an NBA starter was off to a promising start until he suffered a frustrating injury on Nov. 4, days after his best game of the season.
Johnson expects that the long road back from a torn meniscus in his right knee will end Thursday when the struggling Phoenix Suns play at home against the Brooklyn Nets at 10 p.m. on TNT.
“Obviously, I’ve to get back to full-game, five-on-five, back-to-back, that kind of shape, but I think I’m pretty close right now,” said Johnson, who has missed the Suns’ last 37 games after surgery on Nov. 8. “I’m trying to be in every single rep.”
Johnson averaged 13 points and 2.8 3-pointers a game before getting hurt in the first 5:14 of the Suns’ 108–106 Nov. 4 home loss to Portland with no points. That came three days after Johnson scored 29 points and seven 3-pointers — both season-highs — and collected a career-high three steals in Phoenix’s 116–107 home win over Minnesota.
Johnson, 26 and in his fourth NBA season, has been getting closer for the last couple of weeks. A sign that his return was near was when he joined the team for its recent road trip.
“When you don’t go on the road, and you watch on TV, it can make you feel a little disconnected, naturally,” Johnson said. “Seeing the guys go through things or seeing the huddle, you just want to know what they’re talking about. Especially important because when you’re coming back, you want to see what kind of adjustments we’re making.”
Phoenix has struggled in recent weeks and welcomes Johnson’s return. The Suns (21–24) are without All-Stars Chris Paul (hip injury) and Devin Booker (groin injury), who both have missed plenty of games
The Suns play their next eight games on the road.
Johnson missed five weeks of his junior season at Carolina after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. His season debut for the 2017–18 season didn’t come until the Dec. 20 home loss to Wofford when he scored 10 points.
Photo via @Suns