In a surprise move ahead of the trade deadline, the Lakers are reportedly trading Thomas Bryant — one of the surprise bright spots of the season — to the Nuggets for Davon Reed and second round picks.
Bryant is averaging 12.1 points per game this season and was one of the team’s best surprises during Anthony Davis’ injury.
Lakers get Denver’s seconds in 2025, 2026 and 2029, sources tell ESPN. Moving Bryant opens up minutes for Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel in rotation. https://t.co/y7ghFZKhIA— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 9, 2023
The trade was originally reported by Wojnarowski as one that would net the Lakers three second-round picks. However, the Lakers combined this trade with a series of others across the league, including the Patrick Beverley deal with Orlando, and will instead net two second round picks from the Clippers.
Lakers receive: Mo Bamba, Davon Reed and Clippers' 2024 and 2025 second-round picks.— Khobi Price (@khobi_price) February 9, 2023
Nuggets receive: Thomas Bryant.
Clippers receive: Bones Hyland.
Davon Reed is a shooting guard in his fourth year in the league with this being his fourth different team. He’s a seldom-used player, appearing in just 114 games across his career and 35 this year for Denver. This season, Reed is shooting 36.4% from the 3-point line but is a career 38.4% shooter.
Bryant shined bright this year for the Lakers, returning to his pre-injury form and serving as a big boost for the team at times. He’s shooting 44% from the 3-point line this year on just over one attempt per game, averaging the second-most rebounds in his career and sporting the best true shooting percentage of his career.
Even if his second stop in Los Angeles was short, Bryant will forever be etched into Lakers and NBA history after being front and center of the iconic photo of LeBron James breaking the all-time scoring record. Honestly, hats off to him.
Ultimately, though, his defensive limitations were very apparent and cost the Lakers at times. Similarly, with Bryant due for a big payday this offseason, the Lakers almost certainly weren’t going to be able to pay him what he would get in the open market. As a result, the team chose to cash in on Bryant’s play so far this year and do him a favor by moving him to a better situation for himself while restocking their draft assets after using a number of them in trades so far this year.
Bryant had out-played his contract with the Lakers and with the team moving over the cap via trades, it was best to route him to a new home instead of losing him for nothing this summer https://t.co/bT4JTY0G7L— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) February 9, 2023
Bryant had grown unhappy with his diminished PT since AD returned and asked LAL to look for a better situation. He’d also outplayed his contract & LA only has mid-level to re-sign him— so they opted to give his minutes to Wenyen Gabriel & replenish the picks they gave up for Rui. https://t.co/OLaVrB9AkN— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) February 9, 2023
As noted by Woike and Wojnarowski, this will open up playing time for Wenyen Gabriel, who has fallen out of the rotation since Anthony Davis’ return. Gabriel has played in just three of the team’s last seven games with one of those games being only garbage time minutes.
The acquisition of Jarred Vanderbilt also made Bryant more expendable. Vanderbilt’s rebounding ability was on-par with Bryant and he has the ability to play either the four or five.
Effectively, this was the Lakers cashing in on Bryant’s strong season with a number of options available to replace him already on the roster and the ability to acquire more players. And at the end of the day, the Lakers signed Bryant to a minimum contract and then traded him for two second round picks, which is great business in a vaccum.
And now the Lakers now have some more draft picks to go after more help on the trade market and maintain an open roster spot to search for players — maybe another backup center — in the buyout market after the deadline.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude. For all the latest heading into the NBA trade deadline, check out our Silver Screen and Roll Lakers trade rumors tracker.