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Alize Johnson on 10-day contract expiring Sunday: ‘I belong and I wanna be here’

New Orleans Pelicans v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The clock is ticking on Alize Johnson’s second 10-day deal.

That deal expires Sunday in the dead of night, midnight to be specific. Given that it’s his second 10-day, the Nets must offer him a guaranteed contract for the rest of the season in order to retain him, similar to what Brooklyn did a year ago with Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot.

The other option is giving him a portion of Brooklyn’s taxpayer midlevel exception (aka the TMLE) for up to three years, according to Bobby Marks. Whatever comes next for Johnson will likely tie into the action (or perhaps, the lack thereof) on the eve of the buyout market finish line; Friday 11:59 PM EST is deadline for players to be waived to remain eligible for the playoffs, per Marc Stein.

And per Marc Stein, Otto Porter Jr., once one of Brooklyn’s biggest buyout targets and a player Sean Marks nearly landed in 2017, appears to be staying in Orlando. So we can scratch that name off the list.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Alize of his future in Brooklyn. “I try and go out there and not think about that. You know, if it happens, it does. Right now I’m just focused on the next game and everything else will take care of itself.”

Johnson has enjoyed his experience in Brooklyn. In his words, they made him feel “comfortable.” It’s very clear he wants to stay in Brooklyn.

“When I got here, I came right in and they just made me feel comfortable,” explained Alize. “In my first game in Utah, they told me to just go out there and play really hard and play with some energy. You know, be confident. So hearing that from Steve (Nash), James (Harden), and the other guys like Jeff (Green), it just made me feel confident and comfortable right away. It’s been a blessing like I’ve said and I just wanna keep proving to them that I belong and I wanna be here.”

While Nash didn’t directly comment on Alize’s contractual status just yet, directing that question to Brooklyn’s front office, he once again offered praise for the 24-year-old’s work ethic, especially given the uncertain circumstances.

“Alize has been great,” said Nash. “I can’t make a determination on that right now, but we’ve been really pleased with him and proud of him with what he’s brought to the team. We’ll see tomorrow at the end of his 10-day when it’s time to make a decision what happens.”

Mentorship is a word we’ve seen thrown around NBA circles the last couple of days. Golden State Warriors rookie center James Wiseman said Monday that he talks to Kevin Durant regularly about how to fit into Steve Kerr’s system, noting that he also corresponds with Kyrie Irving as well. When asked about which of Brooklyn’s veterans he leaned on the most, Alize Johnson was quick to bring up Irving.

“He’s been somebody that I’ve been on the court with and he’s been telling me to keep it simple and take my time,” said Alize about Kyrie Irving, his biggest mentor. “You know, him staying on me is nice, and I like criticism on the game just to get better. I know he’s been in it for a long time. Right now, Kyrie’s really helping me offensively take some strides and just be patient when I’m out there playing.”

Though his story in Brooklyn isn’t fully written, at least not yet, Alize has picked up some things from his time in the championship-caliber locker room. Johnson praised the veteran group for its energy, in particular. Those “chemistry issues” have really gone to the wayside, haven’t they?

“Just having a good attitude. I think everyone here is positive,” said Johnson about the biggest thing he’s learned in Brooklyn. “I think that’s what you need in a winning team, just everybody with good energy. There’s never a time I walk in here and feel a negative vibe, and that’s the reason I wanna be here. These guys encourage everybody.”

Landry Shamet shares the same agent, George Langberg, who we spoke with in March, He heaped more praise on Johnson’s shoulders. “Teams would be stupid to not scoop him up,” said a very proud (and decidedly frank) Shamet, providing the quote of the afternoon.

“Me and Ze are boys,” said Shamet. “We played against each other in college, went with the same agency. And now, here we are. We went through pre-draft together. We were roommates at the draft combine in Chicago. Really happy for him to have been playing well and created some opportunities for himself. Whatever happens past this point happens. He knows that’s the NBA, but he’s put a good product on the table and teams would be stupid not to scoop him up.”

Other Notes:

  • Landry Shamet is listed as active for Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, per the Nets. Shamet has missed the last two games after re-aggravating a right ankle sprain against the Bulls on Sunday, an injury that originally occurred on March 21st against the Washington Wizards. His floor spacing will be a massive boost to Brooklyn’s guard rotation, already down one Tyler Johnson and some guy named James Harden. Fun fact: Shamet’s shot 43.3% from deep since February 1st, second on the Nets to only the illustrious Joe Harris, shooting 47.9% during that time frame. My goodness!
  • Kevin Durant looked great in practice, said Nash, mentioning that there was no discomfort after Durant’s first game in almost two months. He also added, “Number one priority is to keep him healthy and safe as possible,” and that the staff’s focus would be to slowly ramp-up Durant’s minutes to get the superstar forward back to his normal load.
  • James Harden was at the HSS Training Center on Friday working out and getting treatment on his right hamstring, which was diagnosed as a Grain 1 sprain on Wednesday. “He’s in the building every day with us and he’s on his way back,” said Nash of his MVP-caliber point-guard. Can’t come back soon enough, if we do say so ourselves.