The Los Angeles Lakers have added yet another young piece to their growing roster after signing Washington Wizards center Thomas Bryant on a 1-year contract. Bryant was drafted by the Lakers in the second round of the 2017 draft and spent a season with the team before being waived.
The Wizards signed Bryant in 2018 and he was developing really well, even having a 31-point game in 2018 where he went 14-14 from the field. Bryant would tear his ACL in 2021 and fell out of the Wizards rotation with Daniel Gafford and Kristaps Porzingis on the team. He played just 27 games last season, not having an impressive comeback from the injury.
Signing with the Lakers gives him the chance to recover his stock on a possibly contending team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The 24-year-old can stretch the floor and is a shot-blocker, exactly what the Lakers need in a center that may have to share the floor with both Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.
The Lakers have approached free agency very differently this season as compared to what they did last year. Instead of signing 3-and-D veterans to supplement a 37-year-old LeBron James, the Lakers have filled the team with young blood that can develop off the mentorship veterans like LBJ, Russ, and AD have to offer.
Bryant had more offers from other teams with many looking at him as a high-value low-risk pickup, but the center has reportedly spurned the Utah Jazz, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, and Milwaukee Bucks. With the Lakers, he has a genuine chance to be the team's starting center, so it was the best opportunity for him.
The team has also added Lonnie Walker IV, Troy Brown Jr., Max Christie, Juan Toscano Anderson, and Damian Jones so far this offseason. While the names aren't nearly as flashy as last year's, they are possibly going to be better equipped to deal with the physical stress of an 82-game campaign.