Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Lakers, Stanley Johnson have mutual interest in another contract, per report

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Stanley Johnson has been a rare bright spot for the Los Angeles Lakers since joining the team on a hardship exemption 10-day contract. His energy and defense were so impressive that he managed to start three of the five games he spent on the team and averaged 25.2 minutes per game for the Lakers in total. But when Monday rolled around and his 10-day contract expired, Johnson was no longer on the team.

That doesn’t mean he’ll be gone forever. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, there is “mutual interest” in another contract between the two sides, and Lakers coach Frank Vogel said “we still hope to have him back” when asked about Johnson on Monday. So why isn’t Johnson still a Laker? In all likelihood, it’s only a technicality.

Technically speaking, NBA rules dictate that 10-day contracts can only be signed starting on Jan. 5 of a given season. The Lakers, and a number of other teams, have skirted those rules this season due to COVID-19-induced hardship exemptions, but because the Lakers don’t have any more players in the health and safety protocols, they cannot sign any new players to 10-day contracts. Fortunately, Jan. 5 is right around the corner, so the Lakers likely plan to re-sign him then. 

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The Lakers could still sign Johnson now if absolutely necessary by giving him a full-season contract. They created the necessary roster spot by trading Rajon Rondo on Monday, and could soon create another spot as Avery Bradley’s guarantee date is later this week on Jan. 7. However, by signing Johnson to another 10-day (and likely another after that one expires), the Lakers will not only save a few tax dollars but also retain some roster flexibility as the trade deadline approaches.

Johnson has earned another 10-day deal and perhaps a season-long contract. He might eventually get one. But for now, the Lakers still have a bit of waiting to do before they re-sign him. If they do indeed wait until Jan. 5, Johnson will miss Tuesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings

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