What happens to a dream deferred? Though Trey Johnson might not be Langston Hughes, he too ponders the same question.
Johnson is the absolute portrait of the collateral damage caused by the NBA lockout. While Kobe Bryant and Deron Williams can use their overseas options as a means to stay in shape, guys like Johnson need Europe to remain employed.
Like many NBA players Trey Johnson had to consider playing overseas during the work stoppage. Recently he agreed to a one-year deal with Italian club Teramo. Unlike a lot of other NBA players Johnson’s contract does not have an opt-out clause meaning no matter what happens in the coming months he’ll be out of the NBA for at least a year.
That is a frightening prospect for guys that live for the possibility of earning a 10-day contract. Johnson made the most of his opportunity this year. Before the Lakers gave Johnson a purple and gold jersey he was tearing up the D-League to the tune of 25 a night while playing in Bakersfield. So impressed with Johnson’s play was Phil Jackson that he gave the journeyman some burn in the playoffs.
Despite getting a vote of confidence from a Hall of Fame coach, Johnson finished his time as a Laker without a contract. Next came those padlocks and suddenly Johnson is left with no options but to play in Europe.
It is all too easy to get lost in all the talk of how many NBA ballers are breaking the bank. In the coming months we’ll hear far too many debates regarding the amount of money being paid to the players and how much coin the owners are supposedly losing. Never forget how difficult, if not impossible, it is to get to the point where you can earn one of those guaranteed contracts.
For Johnson the lockout means the deferment of his NBA dream. Maybe he would not have been given a contract by the Lakers. Fact of the matter is his NBA profile was never higher than the moment PJ put him in during the first quarter of the first playoff game of the Lakers’ all-too-short postseason. Maybe he wouldn’t have been a Laker but there was a definite chance Johnson could have got one of those guaranteed contracts by another team.
Before you bemoan all the money 12 guys on an NBA roster are clocking remember how hard it was for Trey Johnson just to be that 12th man if only for a month.