The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to a one-year contract with center Bryant Thomas, who has missed a lot of time over the past two seasons with the Washington Wizards while recovering from an ACL knee injury. .
The Lakers don’t have much wiggle room to work with when signing free agents, so they have to bet a little on recovery projects or veterans returning from injuries like Bryant.
The Lakers are hoping Bryant can provide them with a stable rim protector at the 5th point and a potential double-double, while Anthony Davis also roams the paint at the 4th point.
Heading into next season, the Lakers have +1100 chances of winning the 2023 NBA Championship. Despite missing the playoffs last year, the Lakers saw their title chances increase after rumors surfaced surfaced that they were going to trade Russell Westbrook to the Brooklyn Nets for Kyrie Irving.
Return of Bryant
Bryant is a former standout hoopster from Western New York, where he led Bishop Kearney High School to a state title in the early 2010s. The seven-footer has caught the eye of multiple Blue Chip programs like Syracuse , Indiana, Kentucky and UCLA, but ultimately decided to play at Indiana. After two seasons in college, Bryant declared himself a pro. He was drafted by the Utah Jazz with the No. 42 pick in the second round of the 2017 NBA draft. However, he was sent to the LA Lakers in a draft night trade.
Bryant appeared in 15 games – mostly foul time – with the Lakers during the 2017-18 season. The Lakers waived him after an unimpressive rookie season where he mostly rolled on the bench. He bonded and found instant success with the Washington Wizards. Shortly before Christmas 2018, he scored 31 points on a perfect 14-on-14 shooting night in a triple overtime win over the Phoenix Suns.
At the start of the 2020-21 season, Bryant was averaging a career-high 14.3 points per game with the Wizards with 6.1 rebounds per game before exploding his ACL in his left knee.
Bryant returned to the Wizards at the end of the 2021-22 season to play 27 games including nine starts. He definitely looked rusty, but it was good to finally see him in action. He averaged just 7.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game.
Lakers Limited in off-season moves
The Lakers didn’t release Bryant’s contract details, but it’s assumed they offered him a league minimum. They already have three max contracts on their roster, and they’re involved in trade talks with the Brooklyn Nets to take one of them back.
The Lakers are trying to ditch Russell Westbrook after last season’s misstep when they agreed to a mega deal and traded with the Washington Wizards. They coughed up draft picks and key players that helped them win a championship in 2020 to acquire Westbrook. The bold but senseless move backfired and the Lakers missed the playoffs.
The Lakers want to trade Westbrook as soon as possible, however, there are very few teams interested in a selfish player nicknamed ‘Westbrick’. He also earns a salary of $46.1 million, which is also problematic. The Nets want to trade Kyrie Irving but they are also in no rush to do so even though his market is very tight. The Lakers are interested in Irving if they can include Westbrook in the deal.
The Nets hold the leverage over the Lakers, but the two teams can’t agree on throw-ins in any Westbrook/Irving trade. The Nets want to include Joe Harris and his $18 million salary in the Irving trade, but the stretch-cap Lakers would rather have Seth Curry for just $8 million.
It’s the main reason the Lakers had to take a flyer on Bryant and his rebuilt knee, because they don’t have the money to throw away to lure a free agent like Mitchell Robinson from the New York Knicks, who recently broke. Charlie Ward. Curse when he regained the upper hand with the Knicks.