The Los Angeles Lakers are signing Darren Collison and Stanley Johnson to 10-day contracts as emergency replacement players as their COVID-19 outbreak continues, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Collison, 34, has been out of the NBA since retiring after the 2019 season with Indiana. He's considered comebacks, but finally returns with the Lakers on a 10-day deal.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 24, 2021
The Lakers confirmed their additions later on Friday, and Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported that Collison was expected to be in uniform on Saturday:
Collison, 34, who starred at Etiwanda High and UCLA, worked out at the Lakers’ practice facility last week and will be available for the Lakers when they meet the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday at Crypto.com Arena.
Collison — a college teammate of Russell Westbrook’s at UCLA — is finally joining the Lakers after a two-year saga that has seen him accept multiple invites to games from Jeanie Buss as the team considered bringing him out of retirement.
Collison got a workout from the team at the same time as current replacement player Isaiah Thomas this offseason and reportedly wanted a training camp invite, but most memorably flirted with the Lakers during the 2019-20 season as part of a multi-week “recruiting” saga that culminated with him sitting right in front of our own Aaron Larsuel at a game and getting a tour of the Lakers’ locker room before ultimately opting to stay retired.
Johnson, meanwhile, will give the Lakers some much-needed forward depth while Trevor Ariza is out after previously joining the Chicago Bulls on a 10-day contract as a replacement player — he did not suit up due to Chicago’s’ games being postponed — and starting his season with the South Bay Lakers (the Lakers’ G League affiliate).
These signings comes after veteran forward Ariza became the fifth Lakers player to enter the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Thursday prior to their game against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Lakers signing two more replacement players means that they have at least four COVID positives among their five players in health and safety protocols, as made clear by an NBA memo ESPN obtained and summarized on Sunday.
Under the agreement, a team will be allowed to sign a replacement player for each positive COVID-19 case that crops up across its roster. So, if a team has five positive cases of COVID-19, for example, it could sign five replacement players.
Meanwhile, teams will have to sign at least one replacement player if they have two positive COVID-19 cases; at least two if they have three positive COVID-19 cases; and at least three if they have four or more positive COVID-19 cases.
Replacement players on 10-day contracts don’t count against the Lakers’ still-full 15-man roster, but must be let go at either:
- The conclusion of their contract
- When the Lakers have fewer players in isolation than they have replacement players
The Lakers could sign any of their replacement players to a second 10-day contract if they still have players in isolation at that point, but teams are limited to two 10-day contracts for any one player.
So, for example, the team could sign Isaiah Thomas to a second 10-day contract if they still need replacement players when his current deal expires on Sunday, but would have to replace him with a different player or cut someone at the end of his second 10-day if they want to keep him any longer than that, and would have to sign him for the rest of the season at that point.
This is just a hypothetical, of course, because the Lakers signing another formerly out of the league point guard to a 10-day would not seem to bode well for Thomas’ chances of sticking after two rough outings where he was picked on defensively. This team signed him when they thought they were going to be without Russell Westbrook for a few games, but with Westbrook back, Thomas just does not provide enough value on offense to merit how much teams attack him defensively. We’ll see what happens, but it seems likely that Collison — or someone else — ultimately take his spot later this week.
This breaking news story may update with more information and analysis as it continues to develop. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.