ChrisHaynes, CSNNW.com Trail Blazers Insider (@ChrisBHaynes)
Hewas hurt, confused, and shocked when he got word the Portland TrailBlazers had waived him to make room for the fan-favorite JoelPrzybilla who sat out the first three months of the season.
ArmonJohnson said he couldn't quite come to grips when it finally hit himthat he wasn't part of a NBA roster anymore. It also had to sting abit considering the Trail Blazers chose to release him over aout-for-the-year Greg Oden who was still on the roster at the time.Johnsonknew this was a business, but it still didn't take away the pain hefelt when he received that call saying he was let go.
Itwas tough. It hurt. I wasn't crying or anything like that, but it wasjust so unexpected, Johnson told CSNNW.com. I had to understandthat this is a business and it's nothing personal. It was tough,though.
Leftwithout a team to play for, Johnson just kept playing ball andworking out at local gyms in the Portland area. He didn't feel sorryfor himself thanks to the people he associated himself with.
Myfamily just supported me and kept my spirits up and most of my Blazerteammates called and text me wishing me the best, Johnson said.That meant a lot to me and I was able shift my focus on what I hadto do next.
Hewas the Trail Blazers 34th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft and forthe first month of his rookie season, he had a defined role as thebackup point guard behind Andre Miller. He showed flashes ofbrilliance, but his play ultimately declined and he never got anotherrealistic opportunity.
Withthis unwelcome downtime, Johnson said he was waiting for a playoffcontending team to call, but that never occurred and the waiting-gameproceeded.
However,he never lost faith.
Alittle over a month had passed and Johnson got the call he had beenwaiting for. On April 9., Johnson signed a 10-day contract with theNew Jersey Nets and when it concluded, he signed with the team forthe remainder of the season.
TheNets were 22-43 at the time with nothing really to play for andJohnson saw it as a chance to show the league that he could play.
Itwas a good experience for me in New Jersey to learn under DeronWilliams and getting the chance to start a couple of times in thesecond half was a blessing, Johnson said. I learned so much inthat small amount of time.
Thelast two games of the season, Johnson scored in double digits and hada career high 4 steals against the Toronto Raptors in the seasonfinale in a losing effort.
Alsoin that game, Johnson scored New Jersey's last point in the team'shistory as the franchise moves to Brooklyn starting next season.Quite an accomplishment for someone who didn't have a job in themonth of March.
Whensomebody told me I scored the last bucket as a Net, I didn't reallyunderstand it because I was so mad that we lost so badly in Toronto,Johnson said. Then when I went home later, I started to thinkabout and it was kind of cool. It's something I can look back onafter my career is over.
Johnsonis now an unrestricted free agent and is hoping to latch on a team'ssummer league roster.
Thepath that Johnson was handed reflects his character in how he wasable to handle a tough blow early on, and ended up finishing out ontop. His late season play will almost guarantee that he's in a NBAuniform game one of the 2012-13 season.
Despitethe way things ended in Portland, Johnson said this was where he grewas an individual and a player and he has nothing but gratitude forthe opportunity he was given.
Ilove it in Portland. They have some of the best fans and I had somuch fun there. That's the team that drafted me, so I will alwayshave a place in my heart for that city, Johnson said.
And,I'm sure the city of Portland feels the same way.