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Thomas Bryant reportedly getting interest from Lakers, Celtics in NBA free agency

Thomas Bryant might be coming back to the Lakers in NBA free agency... if he picks them over the Boston Celtics, that is.

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Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Thomas Bryant is spending the second day of NBA free agency mulling a return to the team that drafted him 42nd overall in the 2017 Draft... and their most hated rival. He’s expected to choose between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, according to Haynes.

After using their mid-level exception on Lonnie Walker on the opening day of NBA free agency, the Lakers can currently only offer Bryant the veteran’s minimum to come home.

Bryant, who is still only 24 years old, is coming off of four mostly injury-riddled seasons with the Washington Wizards after the Lakers waived him to clear up a big man logjam for Ivica Zubac and Moe Wagner, both of whom they traded away for pennies within the year.

Bryant looked promising in his first season in the nation’s capital in 2018-19, averaging 10.5 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 61.6% from the field over 72 games, but has not played more than 46 games in a season over the three years since while dealing with a variety of injuries — most seriously an ACL tear in 2021 that limited him to just 27 games in his return to the court last year — which is likely why he’s potentially available for the minimum.

Our own Alex Regla listed Bryant as one of the three centers he’d like the Lakers to target in free agency, and the other two — Mo Bamba and Isaiah Hartenstein — have already signed elsewhere. Here was his reasoning:

Although the injury was a serious one, Bryant will likely still be one of, if not the most intriguing buy-low candidates this summer. At only 24 years old, Bryant represents a prime value-play for teams looking for their next diamond in the rough, especially if his long range jumper sees some positive regression towards his career mean of 35%. He’s exactly the kind of low-cost player with a wide range of outcomes that the Lakers desperately need to keep mining.

In his first few seasons with his new squad, Bryant morphed into one of the most exciting and hyperefficient young centers around the league.

He gobbled up paint points at will (ranked in the 90th percentile or better among bigs in FG% at the rim in three of his last four seasons) and proved to be a legitimate spacing threat, converting 38% of his accumulated threes in his first three years in D.C.

Unfortunately, Bryant tore his ACL last year, derailing his momentum. He was able to make his return to the floor this season, but played in just 24 games and also struggled to rekindle his shooting stroke, making just 27% of his 3-point attempts.

Although the injury was a serious one, Bryant will likely still be one of, if not the most intriguing buy-low candidates this summer. At only 24 years old, Bryant represents a prime value-play for teams looking for their next diamond in the rough, especially if his long range jumper sees some positive regression towards his career mean of 35%. He’s exactly the kind of low-cost player with a wide range of outcomes that the Lakers desperately need to keep mining.

I agree with everything Alex wrote above, but also... Bryant’s return would allow my Twitter avatar to become way more relevant again. So that’s another reason this is a good idea.

Now, obviously that’s less important than that other stuff, but still... help me out, Rob!

This breaking news story will 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.