Has Armon Johnson played his last game with Luke Babbitt?
The former Nevada Wolf Pack point guard might have played his last game with the Portland Trail Blazers, the team that selected him in the second round with the 34th overall pick in the NBA draft in June. The Blazers, according to The Oregonian newspaper, could decide as soon as Tuesday night between Johnson and Patrick Mills for one of its remaining roster spots for the team’s fall training camp.
The Oregonian reported on Sunday that Blazers’ coach Nate McMillan told Johnson that he would be told his fate with the team in 48 hours. “What time is it?” Johnson said at the time. “I’m going to put this in my calendar.”
Johnson and Mills, who played in just 10 games last season with the Blazers because of a foot injury suffered last summer, split time at point guard during the Las Vegas Summer League schedule. Johnson, who also played minutes at shooting guard, averaged 11.6 points, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals in 33.2 minutes a game. Mills averaged 14.2 points, 4.6 assists and 1.2 steals in 29.8 minutes a game.
The 6-foot Mills is considered a better shooter than Johnson and with better quickness while the 6-3 Johnson is considered a more physical player with better defensive skills. Mills, out of Saint Mary’s, took 22 more shots than Johnson this summer and made six more, finishing with a .418 shooting percentage. Johnson was 22-of-45 (.489). Johnson, though, was 1-of-6 on 3-pointers while Mills was 11-of-30.
Both players were second-round draft picks of the Blazers. Mills was taken after his sophomore year at Saint Mary’s with the 55th overall pick in 2009 and Johnson was taken after his junior year at Nevada with the 34th overall pick.
McMillan told The Oregonian, “I like them. Both guys had a good summer. I thought they did a great job of establishing tempo on both ends of the floor.
“Patrick is more of an uptempo guy who shoots the ball well and changes that tempo. Armon seems to set the tone more off the defensive end of the floor. And, offensively, his court vision is pretty good.”
McMillan, one of the strongest defensive guards in the league during his career with the Seattle SuperSonics, might lean toward Johnson’s skill set, The Oregonian reported.
The Oregonian also reported that “indications are the team has been impressed enough with Johnson and his potential that he will earn a (roster) spot.”
The Blazers have a lot of decisions to make at both guard spots.
Starting point guard Andre Miller has an expiring contract and veteran backup point guard Travis Diener is expected to leave the team as a free agent. Shooting guards Rudy Fernandez and Jerryd Bayless might be traded soon. The team also recently signed shooting guard Wes Matthews and drafted shooting guard Ellliott Williams out of Memphis.
Veteran Brandon Roy, the star of the team, can play shooting guard or small forward.
There is also a chance that both Johnson and Mills could earn a spot, depending on what the Blazers do on the trade front in the next few months.
“I think they are both NBA players,” said Blazers assistant coach Kaleb Canales, who coached the team in Las Vegas, to The Oregonian. “I think they showed it this week.”