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Tyler Johnson signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Miami Heat in 2016, and ever since then, he’s been under pressure from the media and fans to live up to that money and produce at a higher level on the court.
This past season, Johnson averaged 11.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 72 games, shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from three. His play drew criticism from all angles, but Johnson says he is done wasting time on the critics because he would rather focus on proving his worth.
“I had some ups and downs last year,” Johnson told Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel. “I didn’t have a terrible season, but I didn’t have the season that I wanted to have and the coaches expected me to have. I’m looking forward to getting back on the right track and not even proving to anybody anything, but just showing myself that I know where I’m supposed to be at as a basketball player.”
The Heat have tried to trade Johnson this summer, but haven’t found a trade market for him. The 26-year-old will make a guaranteed $19.2 million in each of the next two seasons.
Miami has a crowded backcourt with Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson and Dion Waiters all expected to get significant playing time in 2018-19. The Heat’s backcourt could get even more jam-packed if Dwyane Wade decides to return for a 16th season.
Johnson, who has made a stronger commitment to his offseason training so he arrives for training camp in peak shape, says he doesn’t feel any added burden.
“The beautiful thing is that there’s a huge cap hit this year, but people have been saying that for the last two years, ‘Oh, he’s got to do this or he’s got to do that,’ ” Johnson said. “My first year was probably the year I had the most pressure. I don’t even like to use that word because pressure is made up in your head. It’s whatever you make it to be. That first year was probably the year I wanted to come out the most. It was like, ‘Look, I’m worth 50 million dollars.’ I had a good season that year, but obviously I had a little bit of a drop off last year.
“I’m not interested in proving anything to anybody because that’s when you get messed up in your mind. You don’t live up to somebody’s expectations or you don’t do what somebody else wants you to do, and then all of a sudden you feel like you’ve failed instead of actually learning from the experience.”