Cam Johnson will be prepared for the Nets’ season-opening game against the Cavaliers on Wednesday night at Barclays Center.
Head coach Jacque Vaughn said that Johnson was a “full participant” during practice on Saturday.
“Heading in all directions for him to be available opening night,” Vaughn added.
“I think his progression to get to this point has been pretty methodical and our approach [was] getting him to feel comfortable when he’s back on the floor. So he’s done the work behind the scenes, to be in a position to practice today and hopefully he continues to. … We got three more days to get some more comfort and being on the floor and being out there with a different group.”
Despite missing all four of the Nets’ preseason games due to a hamstring ailment, the power forward remained active with USA Basketball throughout the summer with colleague Mikal Bridges.
Johnson was seen shooting from the 3-point arc and the foul line during the shootaround on Saturday.
“Yeah, random,” Johnson said when describing how the injury happened. “Sometimes stuff happens. Sometimes you get, sometimes you get got. But yeah, I’m fine, I’m good.”
“It felt good getting up and down. I’ve been watching, observing, seeing what we’re trying to put in, how we’re trying to execute things offensively and defensively. And so being able to get in there and put that observation to practice was fun today.”
If Johnson is set to play by Wednesday, Vaughn said he intends to be “smart,” explaining that he will still maintain a cautious approach, limiting Johnson to shorter stretches.
Johnson has been present at every practice and hasn’t participated until Saturday, but he believes his “bird’s-eye view” from afar will help once on the court.
What he noticed most while watching from the sidelines was the Nets’ “potential.”
“The potential of what we can do, what we can be. You look out there, we look big on the court. We have a lot of size, length, athleticism,” he said. “Ben [Simmons] adds that unique element of somebody big, strong, can handle the ball, can push the ball, finds open shooters. And if we can just play on that, play on that, use that to our advantage.
“[Simmons] and [Nic Claxton], and then me, [Bridges], [Spencer Dinwiddie], [Dorian Finney-Smith], Royce [O’Neale], Cam Thomas, whoever it may be just feeding off of them and finding spots, finding shots, I think it could be a recipe for success.”
Lonnie Walker IV commented on Johnson’s return, saying it was “like he never left, man.”
“That’s a true pro,” he continued. “Happy to see him back. Excited to see him back and I haven’t really gotten the chance to really play with him. So, to watch his ability to shoot though, it’s a beautiful thing to watch.”
The Nets acquired Johnson from Phoenix in the blockbuster Kevin Durant trade in February. He spent three full seasons with the Suns.
Across 25 appearances with the Nets last year, Johnson played 30.8 minutes per game, averaging 16.6 points, 2.1 assists, and 4.8 rebounds — all of which were career highs.
“It’s still been a while since he’s been in a competitive game … but excited for him to be back on the floor,” Vaughn said. “That’s for sure.”