The Brooklyn Nets will sign restricted free agent guard Tyler Johnson to a four-year, $50 million offer sheet, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday.
Johnson has played 68 games in the last two seasons for the Miami Heat, who still hold his rights. After the NBA’s signing period formally begins on July 7, Pat Riley and the Heat’s brass have three days to either match the offer and keep Johnson or let him head to Brooklyn.
Johnson is subject to a salary-cap quirk known as the Arenas Rule that puts a unique pay structure on this deal. In 2003, the Washington Wizards signed 2001 second-round pick Gilbert Arenas to a big-money offer sheet that the Golden State Warriors could not match because they lacked cap space. To close that loophole, the league instituted what’s colloquially known as the Arenas Rule, which makes it easier for incumbent teams to keep the second-round steals they find.
Any offer sheet given to a second-round pick like Johnson can only be for up to the value of the mid-level exception in the first two years. However, the Nets can offer a massive balloon payment in the last two seasons of the deal that takes the total value to $50 million. Here’s how the terms play out.
Nets offer sheet to Tyler Johnson: $5,628,000 + $5,881,260 + $18,858,765 + $19,631,975 = $50,000,000 total. https://t.co/5LQJNW1OIi— Albert Nahmad (@AlbertRandom1) July 3, 2016
It gets more complicated. If the Heat do not match, Johnson’s cap hit for the Nets is as described above. However, if the Heat elect to match, Johnson’s cap number will be an even $12.5 million across all four years. In either case, the actual amount of money Johnson will be paid each season is the odd structure described above. The only thing that changes is the cap hit if the Heat match.
(The most famous example of this strange rule occurred four years ago with Jeremy Lin and the Houston Rockets. The same provision applies to Jordan Clarkson, who will re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Langston Galloway, who is still a free agent).
Johnson has still never played even half an NBA season’s worth of games. He played in college at Fresno State and went undrafted in 2014. He played in the NBA D-League and had virtually no financial guarantees, but that’ll change now. Wojnarowski calls it "one of the most rapid financial ascensions in recent league history," and it’s hard to imagine a player getting so much from so little, so quickly.
Last year with the Heat, Johnson averaged 8.7 points on 49 percent shooting and a 38 percent clip on three-pointers