Thomas Bryant

Lakers Interested In Jazz Vets, Hope To Preserve 2023 Cap Room

The Lakers have “some interest” in Jazz veterans Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson, but are still trying to maintain their cap room for 2023, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports (Twitter links). The Lakers currently project to have about $30MM in cap room next summer.

As Zillgitt observes, Conley’s $24.36MM salary for 2023/24 is partially guaranteed at $14.32MM, while Clarkson has a player option worth $14.26MM, which may affect how much interest L.A. has in the two guards.

Bogdanovic is on a $19.55MM expiring contract, and several teams are reportedly pursuing the 33-year-old forward, a talented scorer and shooter who has converted at least 38.7% of his three-point tries in each of the last five seasons.

In order to match salaries, Russell Westbrook‘s $47.1MM expiring deal would have to be sent to Utah, because the Lakers don’t have any tradable mid-sized contracts. If they don’t want to take on money beyond next season, a package of Bogdanovic, Malik Beasley and Nickeil Alexander-Walker theoretically works for salary-matching purposes, and all are on expiring or pseudo-expiring deals (there’s a ’23/24 team option for Beasley at $16.52MM).

However, it’s unclear if the Lakers would be interested in that scenario, considering the Jazz might ask for both of the Lakers’ available first-round picks (2027 and 2029). Utah is in the middle of a roster teardown, with a particular emphasis on accumulating unprotected first-rounders.

In other Lakers-related news, Jovan Buha of The Athletic reassesses the team’s depth chart and rotation after acquiring Patrick Beverley from Utah in exchange for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson. Sources tell Buha that Thomas Bryant and Austin Reaves have been “standout performers” in offseason workouts, and Buha currently has both players slotted in the starting lineup at center and shooting guard, respectively.

Lakers Notes: Anthony, Reaves, Bryant, Westbrook, Handy

Carmelo Anthony may return to the Lakers for another season, but a decision isn’t expected quickly, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy. Like many NBA veterans, Anthony’s status is on hold while teams wait to see what happens with this summer’s trade rumors.

“They have a lot to sort out obviously,” an unidentified general manager said of the Lakers. “But as more things get set, they’ll probably get back around to bringing him in. It’s just, at this point, you don’t know what might happen with (Russell) Westbrook and whether you might need to take on players, so you see that around the league a lot — teams have 10, 11, 12 players signed and there’s no hurry to fill in the last spots until you see how the other stuff plays out.”

A return to the Knicks has been mentioned as a possibility for Anthony, and Deveney sees the Nets as a potential landing spot as well. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving reportedly wanted Brooklyn to sign Anthony when they joined the team in 2019, and adding him to the roster might be a way to mollify them if they’re both still with the Nets when training camp opens. The GM also mentions the Warriors, who would give Anthony his best chance to win a ring before he retires.

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Austin Reaves has a strong case for a starting spot heading into camp, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Reaves will need to improve his outside shooting, but he can serve as a secondary ball-handler and his defensive abilities make him an ideal backcourt mate for Westbrook, Buha adds. He also notes that Thomas Bryant could become a starter if L.A. is determined to play Anthony Davis at power forward rather than center.
  • Westbrook will face a “moment of truth” if the Lakers can’t find a way to trade him, states Dan Devine of The Ringer. If Westbrook plays another season in L.A., he’ll either have to adapt to a different role or get out of the way of his star teammates, Devine adds.
  • Assistant coach Phil Handy recently signed an extension with the Lakers, tweets Marc J. Spears of Andscape. Handy had been heading into the final year of his contract.

Pacific Notes: Iguodala, Rollins, Lakers, Murray, Clippers

The Warriors only have 11 players on standard contracts so far, leaving at least three openings on their projected regular season roster. According to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, it’s possible one of those spots will be filled by Andre Iguodala.

Golden State hasn’t set any sort of deadline for Iguodala to make a decision on whether or not he wants to continue his playing career, so there will be a roster spot available for him if he decides he wants to continue playing, Slater explains.

Second-round pick Ryan Rollins also appears likely to claim one of the 15-man roster spots. He has a stress fracture in his foot, but Slater says there’s a belief he should be ready to go by training camp and he’ll likely receive a standard contract rather than a two-way deal.

Quinndary Weatherspoon, who received a two-way qualifying offer from the Warriors, is another player to watch, according to Slater, though he says the team’s preference would be to keep Weatherspoon on a two-way contract rather than a standard deal.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • While some rival scouts and executives questioned the Lakers‘ decision to use their taxpayer mid-level exception on Lonnie Walker and didn’t love the signing of Troy Brown, the general reaction to the team’s free agency moves has been positive, says Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. In particular, Los Angeles received “high marks” for getting centers Thomas Bryant and Damian Jones on minimum-salary contracts, according to Woike.
  • In an episode of The Void Podcast, Kevin O’Connor, J. Kyle Mann, and Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer make the case that the Kings made the right choice picking Keegan Murray over Jaden Ivey, suggesting that Murray is an ideal fit for Sacramento’s roster.
  • The contracts signed by Moses Brown, Jay Scrubb, and Xavier Moon with the Clippers are all Exhibit 10 deals, Hoops Rumors has learned. That means they’re one-year, non-guaranteed minimum-salary contracts which won’t count against the cap unless the player makes the regular season roster.

Celtics Notes: Bryant, Trade Exception, Tax, Horford, Davison

The Celtics had an open offer out to Thomas Bryant to fill the backup center spot in the rotation, team sources tell Jared Weiss of The Athletic, but Bryant opted to join the Lakers on a one-year, minimum-salary deal because he has a chance to become the starting center. Other teams that were interested in Bryant’s services included the Raptors, Bucks and Jazz, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, who reported that Bryant was signing with Los Angeles.

Weiss writes that Bryant was taking a wait-and-see approach to how the Kevin Durant situation might play out in case another opportunity arose, but he decided to accept the Lakers’ offer before it disappeared. As Weiss relays, with Bryant off the board and the free agent center options either aging or relatively unproven, it remains to be seen which player Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens might find to fill the backup role.

Here are a few more notes from Weiss about Boston’s plans for the rest of the roster:

  • The Celtics are still considering ways to use the $17,142,857 traded player exception (created by the Evan Fournier sign-and-trade to New York last summer) that expires on July 18, as our tracker shows. However, Weiss reports that the team is unlikely to use it on a high-salary player due to luxury tax concerns. According to Danny Leroux of The Athletic, Boston is $20.2MM over the tax line with 12 players on the standard roster, which amounts to a $45.8MM tax bill. If the team used the full $17.1MM trade exception, that bill would nearly triple, per The Athletic.
  • The backup center spot will be important for next season because the Celtics plan to limit Al Horford‘s minutes in the regular season, including sitting out “most” back-to-backs, team sources tell Weiss. Horford turned 36 last month and appeared in 92 games last season (regular season and postseason combined), so ensuring that he’s as spry as he was in the playoffs in 2021/22 is certainly a logical move for a team that hopes to compete for a title again next season.
  • JD Davison, whom the Celtics selected 53rd in the draft a couple of weeks ago, will sign a two-way deal with Boston, but sources tell Weiss that Davison will be given the opportunity to earn a standard roster spot over the coming months. Brodric Thomas, who was on a two-way contract with the Celtics last season and is currently a restricted free agent, will also be given a chance to win one of the final roster spots, according to Weiss.

Lakers Sign Thomas Bryant To One-Year Deal

4:02pm: The Lakers have officially signed Bryant, according to NBA.com’s transactions log. The big man told reporters today that he’s fully recovered from the ACL tear he suffered in early 2021.

“(It feels) 100 percent great,” Bryant said (Twitter link via Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group). “Not good. Great.”


6:01am: The Lakers have reached an agreement with free agent center Thomas Bryant and will sign him to a one-year contract, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Haynes doesn’t provide any specifics on the financial terms, but given that Los Angeles has committed to using its taxpayer mid-level exception on Lonnie Walker and is ineligible to acquire a player via sign-and-trade without shedding significant salary, it’s safe to assume it will be a minimum-salary deal.

Bryant, who will turn 25 later this month, began his NBA career with the Lakers, having been acquired from Utah in a draft-night deal in 2017. The 42nd overall pick appeared in just 15 games as a rookie with L.A. and was waived in the summer of 2018.

The Wizards claimed Bryant off waivers and the big man spent the next four seasons in D.C., though his time there was marred by injuries. After a promising 2019/20 season in which he averaged 13.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 1.1 BPG in 46 games (36 starts), Bryant suffered a torn ACL early in the ’20/21 campaign. That injury resulted in him playing just 37 games over the last two seasons.

Now fully recovered from his ACL tear, Bryant drew interest from the Raptors, Celtics, Bucks, and Jazz this offseason, sources tell Haynes.

The former Indiana Hoosier could be an intriguing bounce-back candidate entering the 2022/23 season. According to Haynes, he’ll be given the opportunity to earn a spot in the starting lineup with his new team in Los Angeles.

Western Rumors: Mitchell, Payton II, Lillard, Bryant

Rudy Gobert‘s impending trade to Minnesota, in which Utah will receive multiple unprotected first-round picks, and a separate trade sending Royce O’Neale to Brooklyn for another first-round pick, could be seen as an indication that the Jazz might be rebuilding.

In an appearance on NBA Today, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said (video link from Talkin’ NBA) the league is preparing for Jazz star Donovan Mitchell to request a trade, noting that O’Neale was one of Mitchell’s closest friends on the team.

If you’re Donovan Mitchell and you see two trades like this that are designed to save more than $100MM and get first-round draft picks, that doesn’t inspire confidence,” Windhorst said. “And talking to league executives who saw some of this coming, they think it would be abnormal for Donovan to not want out at this point.

Now, they obviously have the option to use these assets to trade something to put around Donovan, and that may be what they’re trying to sell him on. But right now, there are teams out there that are revving up the possibility of calling Utah and seeing what it’s going to take to get Donovan Mitchell, because they’re not going to be done. This is not a team that needs Mike Conley. This is not a team that needs Bojan Bogdanovic. This is not a team that needs Rudy Gay. All of these guys who have long-term money who have value to other places, I would suspect, are going to potentially be on the trade market and the Jazz are going to get calls.”

When the Gobert news broke, both ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tony Jones of The Athletic said the Jazz planned to retool the roster around Mitchell rather than move him.

However, Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune hears (Twitter links) that it’s not a lock that the Jazz will keep Mitchell, saying there’s been some “push back” on those reports. The Jazz plan to keep their options open for all possibilities, according to Larsen, who notes that Mitchell could be a fallback option for the Heat if they’re unable to land Kevin Durant.

Here are a few more rumors from the Western Conference:

  • A source tells Sam Amick of The Athletic that both Stephen Curry and Draymond Green pitched Gary Payton II on sticking with the Warriors, but Golden State’s reported offer — two years for about taxpayer mid-level exception money — was substantially less than he received from the Trail Blazers (three years, $28MM). Losing Payton will surely sting for the Warriors, as he was a fan favorite and an excellent defender, Amick observes.
  • As Amick relays, it was assumed that Damian Lillard would be a lock to sign a two-year, max extension shortly after free agency opened, which has yet to transpire. The deadline won’t pass until the start of the regular season, but Lillard may still needs some convincing to sign the deal, a source tells Amick, who says the star guard wanted the Blazers to have a strong offseason to prove they could build a contender around him. According to Amick, adding Payton will surely help matters. Not only does the team need perimeter defense, which Payton provides, but there are a couple other ties between the two players. Payton’s father, Hall-of-Famer Gary Payton, has been a mentor to Lillard, and all three are represented by agent Aaron Goodwin.
  • Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times hears (via Twitter) from sources that the Lakers are very interested in a reunion with center Thomas Bryant, who is an unrestricted free agent. However, the Lakers can only offer a veteran minimum deal, so Bryant is in search of a better offer. The Raptors are also pursuing Bryant, per Turner.

Eastern Notes: LaVine, Bryant, G. Harris, T. Young, Hawks

Although Zach LaVine wasn’t one of the 38 free agents who reportedly reached a contract agreement during the first day of free agency on Thursday, the Bulls remain confident that the two-time All-Star will eventually agree to a new five-year, $215MM deal to stay in Chicago, sources tell Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. According to Cowley, the Bulls met with LaVine during day one of free agency, but the 27-year-old wants to hear all the offers that may be available to him.

Here’s more from around the East:

  • Wizards free agent center Thomas Bryant still appears unlikely to return to Washington, as was reported on Thursday. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), Bryant is receiving “significant” interest from contending teams and will likely make a decision today. The Celtics and Lakers are among the clubs in the mix, Haynes adds.
  • The two-year contract extensions signed by Magic wing Gary Harris and Raptors forward Thaddeus Young on Thursday aren’t fully guaranteed in 2023/24, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. According to Marks, Harris has no protection in the second year of his new contract, while Young has a partial guarantee.
  • The Hawks have officially confirmed a front office move that was reported in June, announcing in a press release that Landry Fields has been elevated from assistant GM to general manager. The club also announced a series of other basketball operations hires and promotions.

Free Agent Rumors: Bryant, Bridges, Cavs, Paschall, Suns

Veteran center Thomas Bryant, who will be an unrestricted free agent this week, is likely to leave the Wizards and sign with a new team, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington, who tweets that Bryant is expected to have multiple suitors.

While Hughes’ report doesn’t name any specific teams that will pursue Bryant, a number of clubs around the NBA are believed to be in the market for a backup center, including the Bulls, Raptors, Knicks, and Lakers, among others.

Assuming Bryant departs, the Wizards would likely be in the market for a third center to join Kristaps Porzingis and Daniel Gafford on their depth chart, Hughes notes.

Here are a few more free agency updates from around the NBA:

  • Following Miles Bridgesarrest on domestic violence charges, the Hornets have put out a press release indicating that they’re aware of the situation. “We are in the process of gathering additional information,” the team said in its statement (Twitter link). “We will have no further comment at this time.”
  • In a lengthy look at the free agents the Cavaliers could consider this offseason, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com cites sources who say the team has been in touch with forward T.J. Warren‘s camp and remains interested in point guard Tyus Jones.
  • Confirming that Jazz forward Eric Paschall didn’t receive a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent, Tony Jones of The Athletic cites sources who say Paschall is expected to draw interest on the open market as an unrestricted FA.
  • Free agent big man Frank Kaminsky appears unlikely to return to the Suns, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. Kaminsky, who was waived by Phoenix in April, missed most of the season due to a stress reaction in his right knee, which required surgery.
  • Gambadoro also tweets that he expects the Suns to have interest in unrestricted free agent wing Donte DiVincenzo.

Otto Porter, Gary Harris, T.J. Warren Among Lakers’ Potential FA Targets

The Lakers‘ options on the free agent market this week will likely be limited, since the team will only be able to offer the $6.5MM taxpayer mid-level exception or a minimum-salary contract to potential targets. However, as Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes, the team will still aim high, hoping to sell players on the opportunity to start and the ability to increase their stock with a strong year in Los Angeles, like Malik Monk did in 2021/22.

According to Buha, youth, length, athleticism, and shooting are among the traits the Lakers will be prioritizing. Two-way wings who could come in and potentially start alongside Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook will be a priority, sources tell The Athletic.

Here are some details on the types of players the Lakers will be eyeing in free agency:

Eastern Notes: Clifford, Pistons, Smart, Raptors, Sixers

Although the Hornets fired him as head coach following the 2017/18 season, Steve Clifford still had a good relationship with general manager Mitch Kupchak and owner Michael Jordan, writes Steve Reed of The Associated Press. Those ties resulted in Clifford getting his old job back after Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson pulled out of an agreement to coach the team.

“You want to evolve and get better at what you do,” Clifford said Tuesday at his introductory press conference. “I have coached a lot more games than I had when I was here the first time and worked with another team. You learn a lot from that.”

Clifford was brought in to fix a defense that ranked 22nd in the league this season, and he told reporters that will be an emphasis. Clifford doesn’t plan major changes to the offense, which will continue with a fast-paced philosophy led by LaMelo Ball.

“We are going to play offensively with a very similar emphasis that they have played with the last couple of years,” Clifford said. “Offense starts with playing through the strengths of your best players and Ball is a great talent with a passion for the game and a flair for playing in the open court and we want to take advantage of that.”

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Acquiring Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks from the Knicks will give the Pistons greater flexibility next offseason, observes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Detroit will have team options on both players for 2023/24 and can create $19MM in cap room by letting them go. With Cory Joseph and Hamidou Diallo both on expiring contracts, Kelly Olynyk holding a $3MM partial guarantee and DeAndre Jordan‘s $7.9MM in dead money coming off the books, the Pistons should have north of $45MM in cap space for 2023, Edwards writes.
  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart barely notices anymore when he’s the subject of trade talks, tweets basketball writer Mark Murphy. “Every year my name is in talks, and I’m still here,” Smart said. “I’m still the longest tenured Celtic. So I take it as a compliment. It means you’re valued pretty high and if your name is talked about people want you. But I don’t pay much attention.”
  • The Raptors are expected to target centers in free agency with Isaiah Hartenstein and Thomas Bryant being players to watch, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.
  • Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice examines the Sixers‘ options in free agency and looks at how James Harden‘s option decision will impact the team’s cap situation.