Lakers Predicted to Reunite With Former Big Man in Free Agency

Thomas Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Thomas Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers have already utilized their taxpayer mid-level exception by signing Lonnie Walker IV at the start of free agency, so they will now need to rely on veteran minimum contracts and trades if they wish to continue reshaping their roster ahead of the new season.

According to Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz, former big man Thomas Bryant could be an ideal fit with the current roster, providing the Lakers can convince him to join the team on a veteran minimum contract for the upcoming season.

“Bryant could attempt to rehab his value as a starting center in L.A. on a minimum deal and look to cash in next offseason. Before tearing his ACL, he was averaging 14.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 0.8 blocks, and shooting 42.9 percent from three in his first 10 games 2020-21…Adding a floor-spacing big man in the frontcourt next to Davis would give everyone more room to operate, especially if Russell Westbrook returns,” Swartz wrote in his July 3 column. 

Bryant, who was originally drafted by the Utah Jazz with the 42nd pick in the 2017 draft, spent his rookie season with the Lakers courtesy of the trade that saw Tony Bradley head to Salt Lake City, with Bryant and Josh Hart heading to Tinseltown. As a rookie, Bryant participated in 15 games for the Lakers, averaging 1.5 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 0.4 assists per game. 

Bryant is Holding Out For Better Offers

While Bryant isn’t sitting atop of any team’s wishlist, it’s clear he believes he can find himself a better deal than a veteran minimum contract, otherwise, he would’ve already signed with the Lakers.

According to Brad Turner of the LA Times, Bryant is waiting to see if any additional offers come his way before making a decision on a potential reunion with his former employers, with Turner noting the Toronto Raptors have also registered an interest in his services.

If Bryant does decide to take his talents elsewhere next season, the Lakers will have other options available to them, as the current NBA market is awash with talent at the big man position, and talents like Mike Muscala are still available, and would likely accept the veteran minimum to play on a contending team.

Lakers Focused on Kyrie Irving

It’s true, the Lakers do need to add another big man to round out their rotation, and the addition of a young, versatile center would be perfect for them, as they continue to reduce the average age of their roster.

However, any potential deal for Bryant is likely on the back burner, as the Lakers continue to engage with the Brooklyn Nets on a potential deal to bring Kyrie Irving to Los Angeles, which would, of course, see Russell Westbrook heading in the opposite direction.

According to a report by Yahoo Sport’s Chris Haynes, the Lakers and Nets are discussing the framework of a potential trade, and there is ‘palpable excitement that an agreement can be reached.

“There’s palpable optimism that an agreement can be struck between the two sides this offseason, but there remain a few hurdles, sources said…The Nets maintain discussions have only been preliminary at this point, sources said,” Haynes wrote in his July 2 column.

Until the Irving saga reaches its conclusion – either positive or negative – it’s unlikely we will see the Lakers making any other moves to round out their roster, and that could mean that Bryant is off the board by the time they’re ready to enter negotiations. But if he isn’t, then a veteran minimum deal could make sense for both parties.

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