Nets forward Cam Johnson goes u for a layup against...

Nets forward Cam Johnson goes u for a layup against the Cavaliers during the first half of an NBA game at Barclays Center on Oct. 25. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Cam Johnson had Wednesday’s game at the Suns circled when the schedule came out this summer.

For he and Mikal Bridges, it’s a return they’ve waited for since being traded to the Nets in February. It’s their first game in Phoenix as visitors and there's excitement going back to familiar territory.

“I like the arena, I like Footprint Center,” Johnson said. “I like the fans there. There’s just a lot of memories just going back to the place where you have a lot of memories.”

Johnson spent four seasons there and Bridges spent five. Both were first-round draft picks that found a home with the Suns and developed a friendship that’s carried over in Brooklyn.

Bridges was just as thrilled to be back. With the Suns, he blossomed from a 3-and-D wing to being named runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year in 2021.

“Just a lot of years there, you know, a lot of friends there,” Bridges said after the Nets’ loss to the Kings Tuesday. “A lot of fans just through the whole journey. It’s going to be exciting.”

Kings forward Keegan Murray, left, defends Nets forward Mikal Bridges...

Kings forward Keegan Murray, left, defends Nets forward Mikal Bridges in the second half of an NBA game in Sacramento, Calif., on Monday. Credit: AP/José Luis Villegas

When both were traded, the buzz was more about Kevin Durant being the last of the Nets’ big three to leave. Durant followed Kyrie Irving's trade to the Mavericks and James Harden's trade to the 76ers the year before.

At the time, it was seen as a seismic shift giving the Suns instant contender status. But it’s also benefited the Nets with Bridges and Johnson thriving in larger roles and later being selected to play for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup

Johnson signed a four-year, $94.5 million contract extension this offseason. Bridges became a bigger star showing the ability to score from all three levels while being the Nets’ No. 1 scoring option.

But Phoenix is where it all started for “The Twins.” Johnson said his favorite memory was reaching the 2021 NBA Finals and seeing how much the fans supported the team just as COVID-19 attendance restrictions were lifted.

“We won the first two [games in Phoenix] and it was a pretty good feeling,” Johnson said. “The crowd was just going crazy the whole entire playoff run because the fans were just allowed back in the building. They were very raucous.”

It’s a sound Johnson and Bridges look forward to hearing again. Even though they’re focused on the Nets and Bridges wants to win Wednesday, they’ll be glad to see former faces in a return 10 months in the making.

“Last game I played there, I didn’t know it would be my last game there,” Johnson said. “It’s been a while since I played there but it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Notes & quotes: Coach Jacque Vaughn said Dennis Smith Jr. (upper back sprain) hasn’t been ruled out for this road trip but he wasn’t with the team Monday as he got treatment in Brooklyn . . . Second-round pick Jalen Wilson scored his first NBA basket in Monday’s loss to the Kings.

More Brooklyn Nets

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months
ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME