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Report: Thomas Bryant rejoins Lakers as free agent

The Lakers are bringing one of their former draft picks back into the fold as a free agent.

The team has agreed to a one-year deal with Thomas Bryant, the 6-foot-10 center who played for the franchise as a rookie, according to a Yahoo Sports report. The 24-year-old has spent the last four seasons with the Washington Wizards after the Lakers waived him in 2018.

Bryant has averaged 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in his five-year career. Yahoo Sports reported that Bryant expects to compete for the starting center position – he’s one of two centers the Lakers have signed in free agency along with another returnee, Damian Jones.

Bryant played in just 27 games last season after tearing his ACL in January 2021 and taking a year to recover. His best NBA season was in 2019-20 when he started 36 games and averaged 13.2 points and 7.2 rebounds while shooting over 40% from 3-point range.

The Lakers are looking to implement a four-out, one-in offense favored by new coach Darvin Ham – Bryant’s ability to space the floor could help him crack the rotation as a shooting big man. His production dipped last season after his rehab: He’s coming off 7.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 28.6% shooting from 3-point range.

The Lakers drafted Bryant at No. 42 overall in 2017 out of Indiana. He largely played for the G League South Bay Lakers, and after the season, the team opted to keep center Ivica Zubac and waived him instead. Bryant is a former teammate of Russell Westbrook, but the Lakers are widely understood to be attempting to trade Westbrook during the offseason.

The team has just one roster spot remaining after signing Lonnie Walker IV, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Troy Brown Jr. and Jones on the first day of free agency. The Lakers have loaded up on youth, with all of their free agents so far under 30. Bryant will turn 25 later this month.

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