Raps see future in Amir

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- As his team’s fortunes hang in the wind, there is one Raptor whose fortunes appear to be on the rise.

Amir Johnson isn’t happy his team is flailing away with the season on the line, but were he to look completely selfishly at the impact the past few weeks have had on his future prospects, even he would have to admit he comes out ahead.

Johnson already had made an impact on the Raptors in limited minutes, but with Chris Bosh down, Johnson has gone from bit player to big-minute player.

For the season, Johnson is averaging just over 17 minutes a night which is more than he has ever had in his career, but in the past four with Bosh out, Johnson has been pulling down 26 minutes a night.

And with Bosh out, minutes aren’t the only thing going up. Johnson is averaging 12 points and 6.5 rebounds over that span as well.

All of which comes at a very good time for a guy who becomes a free agent this summer.

He won’t get mentioned in the LeBron and Dwyane Wade conversations but a team looking to fill out its bench with some energy and hustle could do far worse.

Johnson’s hustle and energy were not lost on the Raptors either.

He became one of Jay Triano’s favourite topics, although that might be as much about what he was getting in those departments from the rest of his team as it was about Johnson.

Johnson hasn’t given much thought to where he might wind up next season, but he’s certainly not counting Toronto out.

“It’s a given that from the get-go (of the off-season) I’ll be working on my strength and some of the things I can improve on,” he said. “I go into every off-season thinking: ‘What can I do to get better?’ I’m not the kind of player who takes many days off in the off-season.”

As for who he will be playing for, Johnson isn’t sure other than to say he would welcome a return to the Raptors. Asked specifically if there was anything that he experienced this season that would turn him off the organization, Johnson replied emphatically, “No not at all.”

He is confident, though, that wherever he winds up, he’ll be beneficial to that team.

“I’m very sure any team which looks my way will get a guy who is going to play hard,” he said. “I would be more than happy to come back here.”

Not even the presence or departure of Chris Bosh here would affect his decision, Johnson said.

“That doesn’t matter,” he said. “I’m happy to play anywhere.”

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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