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.”
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.