Nets guard Dennis Schroder, left, and Cam Johnson sit on the...

Nets guard Dennis Schroder, left, and Cam Johnson sit on the bench during the second quarter against the Celtics at Barclays Center on Tuesday. Credit: Brad Penner

MINNEAPOLIS — It hasn’t been the season Cam Johnson expected since signing a four-year contract this offseason. Now it’s taken another turn after his return from injury.

Johnson came off the bench for the Nets on Feb. 14 against the Celtics after missing four games with a left hip strain. He did it again Thursday against the Raptors, the first two games he’s been a reserve since being traded to the Nets last season.

“Just trying to figure it out,” Johnson said at shootaround before the Nets' matchup with the Timberwolves Saturday. “Trying to figure out what’s best for the team and help us win.”

When Johnson missed eight games earlier this season, he returned to the starting lineup, even while on a minutes restriction. Now, both he and interim coach Kevin Ollie said that, while he’s still on a restriction, this change isn’t about easing him back into game shape.

Ollie said pregame it’s about the Nets having “the right people on the court” to start. It’s not a long-term change but it’s another way the Nets are trying to sort out what works for now.

“I told CJ to have that power off the bench, coming off with his shooting prowess that he has,” Ollie said. “Understanding his role, embracing his role, and roles change. Definitely as we go through thing, roles will change, nothing’s permanent.

“But I want him to embrace this team role that he has and come out there and play his best minutes.”

The change hasn’t gone well so far. Johnson shot 1-for-5 against the Celtics and 1-for-7 against the Raptors. He had a combined 10 points in those games while also shooting a combined 1-for-9 on three-pointers.

It’s added another hurdle in Johnson’s first season after signing a $94.5 million contract last offseason. Of the 13 games he’s missed, 12 have been due to leg or hip injuries.

Johnson’s also shooting 45% from the field, his lowest showing in three seasons. His scoring went from 15.5 points last season to 13.5 points this season.

So losing his starting spot, even if it’s temporary, is another setback. Johnson was a mostly a reserve in his first three seasons with the Suns and is getting used to preparing for a game differently  than before.

“It's a work in progress,” Johnson said.

Ben Simmons faced the same situation returning from his back injury. He came off the bench in nine games last season - the first time in his career - and did so twice after returning on Jan. 29.

By his third game back, he was in his usual role as a starter. but it wasn’t easy being in an unfamiliar role.

“It is tough. I mean, you also just deal with injuries, get back into a rhythm given the situations I’ve had,” Simmons said. “So it’s always going to be hard. It’s not gonna be something you just walk into and you get your rhythm back. You just got to stay with it. Stay the course.”

It’s what Johnson’s figuring out now. The Nets envisioned him being a cornerstone piece of the post-Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving era and they still believe he’s a major part of that alongside Mikal Bridges, Nic Claxton and Cam Thomas.

But now, it’s adjusting to a new role as a reserve. It’s not what Johnson expected but it’s another adjustment in a season that hasn’t gone the way he expects.

“It's just about finding that rhythm and we're all very routined,” he said. “I think the routine is important in a long season like we have, so finding what works for you, finding how to manage your emotions, your energies going into the game. It's a little different from both sides. So like I said, work in progress."

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