'No bad blood': Cam Johnson supports Phoenix Suns teammate Jae Crowder's decision

Mikal Bridges has learned so much from Jae Crowder.

So he's going to miss his teammate, who has chosen not to attend training camp as the Phoenix Suns have been trying to trade him.

"It sucks," Bridges said. "I love 9-9. I remember telling him all the time he's one of my favorite vets ever. It's the business and how things go.  I knew, especially from the (2021) finals, when I look around, I know everybody, we're not going to be here forever. Just how it is. Kind of sad. I miss my guy, though."

Sources informed The Republic the Suns were looking to deal Crowder to Utah for Bojan Bogdanovic this month, but talks broke down when Phoenix also wanted Jarred Vanderbilt, who the Jazz acquired in the blockbuster Rudy Gobert deal.

Crowder played two seasons (2017-19) for the Jazz, who ended up trading Bogdanovic to Detroit for Kelly Olynyk and Saben Lee.

Now the Suns and Crowder have "mutually agreed" the veteran forward won't attend camp that starts Tuesday.

Apr 19, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.;  Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) celebrates with Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) after a three-point basket against the New Orleans Pelicans during Game 2 of the Western Conference playoffs.
Apr 19, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.; Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) celebrates with Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) after a three-point basket against the New Orleans Pelicans during Game 2 of the Western Conference playoffs.

"I'll let the nature of our conversations, out of the respect through personal and professional nature of those conversations, they'll remain private," Suns General Manager James Jones said. "But it's an opportunity for us to navigate this, our guys to step up. We've always said this is about team, it's never about one person. It's never about one player. It's a collective."

Back in August, Crowder took to Twitter to deliver a message that was a sign of things to come.

"CHANGE IS INEVITABLE.. GROWTH IS OPTIONAL.!! I BELIEVE ITS TIME FOR A CHANGE… I WANNA CONTINUE GROWING.!"

Then on Friday, Crowder tweeted "99 WONT BE THERE" in reaction to The Republic's story about training camp that addresses whether he or Cam Johnson will start this season for the Suns.

Crowder later deleted the tweet, but went back on Twitter on Sunday to essentially say goodbye to Phoenix.

"ONE MUST SEEK WORK WHERE HE IS WANTED.. WHERE HE IS NEEDED.! I AM THANKFUL FOR WHAT THESE PAST 2 YRS HAVE TAUGHT ME.! NOW I MUST TAKE ON ANOTHER CHALLENGE WITH CONTINUED HARDWORK & DEDICATION.! FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO CLOSED THE DOOR ON ME…. THANK YOU! 99 BACK SOON.!"

May 10, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona; USA; Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) tries to pry the ball loose from Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) during game 5 of the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs.
May 10, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona; USA; Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) tries to pry the ball loose from Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) during game 5 of the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs.

Sources informed The Republic the Suns were looking to start Cam Johnson over Crowder this season. Johnson is eligible for a rookie extension and is in negotiations with the Suns about a deal.

A lottery pick in the 2019 draft, Johnson made it clear there is no beef between him and Crowder, who started all 80 games he played last season for the Suns counting the playoffs.

Jae Crowder trade speculation: Destinations, landing spots, teams for Phoenix Suns forward

Apr 22, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.;  Phoenix Suns forwards Cameron Johnson (23) and Jae Crowder (99) celebrate after winning Game 3 of the Western Conference playoffs against the New Orleans Pelicans 114-111.
Apr 22, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.; Phoenix Suns forwards Cameron Johnson (23) and Jae Crowder (99) celebrate after winning Game 3 of the Western Conference playoffs against the New Orleans Pelicans 114-111.

"Your best advocate is your own advocate," Johnson said. "If that's a career move that he feels he needs to make, as a teammate, you want what's best for your guys. You want what's best for your boys. There's no bad blood between Jae and I. Jae has looked out for me the past couple of years. He's taught me a lot. He's shown me a lot. He's somebody I can always call and say, 'What do you see on this?'"

Johnson chalks it all up as "business" for Crowder.

"It's him trying to do what's best for him and his career," Johnson added.

Crowder signed a three-year deal with the Suns after helping the Miami Heat reach the 2020 finals in the bubble. He played a key role in the Suns advancing that far in his first season and having the NBA's best record last season at 64-18.

Somers: Suns strike right tone in answering questions about Sarver

May 10, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) high-fives Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams during game five of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center.
May 10, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) high-fives Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams during game five of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center.

Now Crowder is looking to continue his career elsewhere.

"We ended the season not knowing this was going to be the outcome, but I see it as an opportunity for us," Suns coach Monty Williams said. Dallas eliminated the Suns in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals at Footprint Center in Phoenix.

"Like James said, our guys have been in the gym. We've been off for so long getting ready, not knowing that his outcome would be upon us. We did have private conversations and those things will remain private just because I want our guys to know that anytime something comes up, they know that they can be themselves and they're never going to hear it out publicly, at least from me. That's how we've always operated, James and myself, from Day 1."

Read more: 'That's not the Robert Sarver I know': Devin Booker talks investigation

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: 'No bad blood': Cam Johnson supports teammate Jae Crowder's decision