The Los Angeles Lakers have slowed down making free agent moves as they monitor the Kyrie Irving situation in Brooklyn. As it becomes apparent that a move isn’t imminent yet, the team will need to switch the focus back to building the roster through free agency. The team has made a concerted effort to get younger this offseason after having the oldest team in the NBA last season.
The Lakers are set to have a massive age decrease at center. DeAndre Jordan signed with the Denver Nuggets and Dwight Howard is unlikely to return. The team has already signed 27-year-old Damian Jones and has decided to bring back another familiar face.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Thomas Bryant has reached a deal on a one-year contract with the Lakers.
Lakers fans will be familiar with Bryant as he was a second-round pick by the team in 2017. He only spent one season with the team and played 15 games before the Washington Wizards picked him up. He developed into a solid player for them and started 108 games over the last four seasons, averaging 11.0 points a game. Bryant has dealt with injury issues and has only played in 37 games combined over the last two seasons. Returning to the Lakers on a veteran’s minimum contract will give him the chance to recoup some value and hit free agency again after the season.
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Bryant Had Interest From Other Teams
Bryant has been a name that’s been linked to the Lakers since the start of free agency. The team needed to get younger at center and he made a lot of sense due to his ties to the team. The center took his time as he had interest from several other teams, per Haynes.
“He was courted by the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz, sources said,” Haynes wrote.
What had to interest Bryant about a Lakers return is that he’ll have a chance to compete for a starting spot, per Haynes.
“Bryant will be given the opportunity to win the starting center position, sources said,” Haynes wrote.
Being the starting center for a Lakers team that has LeBron James and Anthony Davis is a great way to get recognized. Just ask Malik Monk, who took a veteran’s minimum deal with Los Angeles last season and is set to make $19 million over two years with the Sacramento Kings after an impressive year.
Bryant Is Having Deja Vu
Bryant is getting the chance to go back to where his NBA career started. He never had much of a chance to prove himself with the Lakers but that will change this season. The team would love it if he seized the opportunity and earned the starting center spot. Bryant reacted to the news of his signing and said he’s having “deja vu.”
Bryant faces stiff competition as the Lakers added another big man who was previously with the team in Damian Jones. The two will be battling for that starting center spot in training camp. It should be the most interesting position battle to watch for the team this offseason.