The Los Angeles Lakers are signing former Washington Wizards center Thomas Bryant to a one-year deal, according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes. Bryant will have a chance to win the starting center job, according to Haynes, and his only competition, assuming Anthony Davis is playing most of his minutes at power forward, is Damian Jones, whom the Lakers signed away from the Sacramento Kings.
Both Lakers centers are now in their second stints with the team. Jones spent a brief period in Los Angeles during the 2020-21 season, but left for Sacramento after his 10-day contracts expired. Bryant was a second-round pick of the Lakers in 2017, but was waived after his rookie year.
He wound up thriving as a member of the Washington Wizards. Across his first 118 games as a Wizard, he averaged 11.6 points on 60 percent shooting from the field and just under 37 percent from behind the arc, making him one of the more efficient low-usage big men in basketball. What the Lakers are most interested in out of Bryant is his improved 3-point shooting. He made over 40 percent of his attempts from deep during the 2019-20 season, and if that translates, the Lakers will have found a way to play Davis at his preferred power forward without sacrificing spacing.
The risk for Bryant is that he suffered a torn ACL during the 2020-21 season and hasn’t quite looked the same since. He played only 27 games last season and struggled to earn a stable role in the rotation behind Montrezl Harrell, Daniel Gafford and later Kristaps Porzingis.
But more time to get healthy on a roster with two Hall of Fame forwards next to him should only help Bryant, and although the Lakers appear to be working on a trade for Kyrie Irving, it’s worth noting that Bryant did spend his limited time on the court during the 2020-21 campaign playing alongside Russell Westbrook. A shooting center would help no matter who their point guard is.