KENDALL – Tyler Johnson’s connection with James Johnson runs much deeper than their last names.
Tyler and James instantly bonded when the Heat signed James last summer. The two lived in the same neighborhood and would car pool to work.
Soon, Brothers Johnson T-shirts became hot sellers.
Tyler posted career highs in points, rebounds and assists and set franchise record for points without a start (1,002) and 20-point games off the bench (11).
James also set career highs in points, rebound and assists and he finished fifth in the sixth man of the year voting.
With James signing a four-year, $60 million contract, Tyler was asked Tuesday if he’d like to see James continue as a reserve. Tyler’s role is not expected to change with shooting guard Dion Waiters returning but most believe James will move into the starting lineup and newcomer Kelly Olynyk will become the first big man off the bench.
Coach Erik Spoelstra moved James into the starting lineup for the final five games last season and he averaged 18.2 points and 7.0 rebounds while shooting 50.7 percent.
“We’re building chemistry with every single one of our teammates,” Tyler said from the Heat’s youth summer basketball camp at Miami-Dade College.
“We still got two guys that we haven’t really met yet as far as Kelly, and I met Bam (Adebayo) a little bit during summer league. But I feel comfortable that no matter who would come off the bench, we’ll be just as much of a problem as we were this year. But to answer your question, it would be cool to do Johnson and Johnson again.”
As for that relationship, Tyler obviously was very pleased James returned to Miami. Following the season he said he “couldn’t imagine” James playing anywhere else.
“It was awesome,” Tyler said of that bond the two built. “It was something that I hadn’t really experienced as far as having that type of chemistry with another teammate where we played off each other so much. I haven’t really experienced that in all my years of playing basketball. So it was definitely interesting. But it was built before we even stepped on the floor together.”