LeBron James’ Lakers are rumored to be in the market for a superstar — potentially Kyrie Irving — but the Los Angeles team on Tuesday night made a smaller move in signing former Wizards center Thomas Bryant.
Bryant, who spent the last four seasons in the District, and the Lakers agreed to a one-year deal at the veteran minimum. The 6-foot-10 big man entering his age-25 season was the Wizards’ starting center for two seasons before a torn ACL ended his 2020-21 season and impacted his 2021-22 campaign.
According to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes, Bryant will have a chance to win the starting center job. The Raptors, Celtics, Bucks and Jazz were also reportedly interested in signing Bryant.
Bryant, an Indiana University product, was originally drafted by the Lakers in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft. But the team waived him in 2018, and he was picked up by the Wizards.
In his first 128 games with Washington, including 99 starts, Bryant averaged 11.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. But last season Bryant was mostly a bench piece, playing just 16.3 minutes in 27 contests (nine starts) and averaging 7.4 points and 4.0 rebounds.
He could be a fit with the Lakers as a versatile big who can both play down low and be a threat in the corner as a career 35% 3-point shooter.
Bryant not returning to D.C. isn’t a surprise after the team traded for Kristaps Porzingis at the trade deadline last season. Porzingis and Daniel Gafford, a defensive presence down low, are expected to lead the way at center for Washington this season.