Thomas Bryant reached an agreement with the Los Angeles Lakers on a one-year veteran’s minimum contract, according to reports from Chris Haynes early Wednesday morning.
Entering his fifth NBA season, Bryant will earn a base salary of $2,133,278 and become an unrestricted free agent after the 2022-2023 season. According to Haynes, Bryant will be given the opportunity to win the starting center position on the Lakers.
Bryant also received interest from the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz, but instead, he’ll return to the Lakers, where he began his career.
The 42nd overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft out of Indiana University, Bryant was a two-year standout for the Hoosiers before turning pro. He averaged 12.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, starting all in all 69 games for the Hoosiers. Bryant helped Indiana win a Big Ten championship and reach the Sweet Sixteen in 2016 as a member of the Big Ten All-Freshman team.
Bryant was a McDonald’s All-American in 2015 out of Huntington Prep in Huntington, W.V. Originally from Rochester, N.Y., Bryant was a five-star recruit and the No. 20 player in the class of 2015. Indiana’s 2015 recruiting class of Bryant, OG Anunoby and Juwan Morgan are all currently signed to NBA contracts.
As a rookie, Bryant appeared in 15 games for the Lakers, but played just 4.8 minutes per game. He was waived in 2018 after one season in Los Angeles before signing with the Washington Wizards. Bryant spent the last four seasons in Washington where he saw his career take off.
During his first season in Washington, Bryant averaged 10.5 points and 6.3 rebounds while leading the entire NBA with a 68.5 field goal percentage. This led to Bryant signing a three-year deal worth $25 million with the Wizards before the 2019-2020 season. That year, Bryant averaged 13.2 points and 7.2 rebounds.
Bryant was beginning to take shape as one of the most efficient, young forwards in the NBA during his fourth season as a professional in 2020-2021. He was scoring 14.3 points with 6.1 rebounds per game and shooting 42.9 percent from 3 and 71.4 percent on two-point attempts. But 10 games into the season, Bryant tore his ACL and missed the rest of year. It was an arduous recovery process for Bryant, as he played in just 27 games during the 2021-2022 season, too.
Bryant, a 6-foot-10, 248-pound, 24-year-old center, will now look to revive a promising career with the Lakers, who will make a push to return to contending status this offseason.
The Lakers missed the playoffs with All-NBA players Lebron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis last season, but have signed a crop of newcomers including Bryant, Lonnie Walker, Scotty Pippen Jr., Cole Swider, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Troy Brown Jr. and Damian Jones. The Lakers have also been rumored to be in pursuit of Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who won the NBA Finals alongside James in 2016 on the Cavaliers.
Related stories on Indiana basketball:
- JUWAN MORGAN TRADED TO PACERS: Former Indiana University basketball player Juwan Morgan was traded from the Boston Celtics to the Indiana Pacers on Friday. Morgan was included in a package alongside four other players and a first-round pick in exchange for Malcom Brogdon. CLICK HERE
- VICTOR OLADIPO SIGNS WITH HEAT: Former Indiana All-American guard Victor Oladipo signed a one-year contract with the Miami Heat on Thursday in the first day of NBA free agency. After missing the better part of three seasons, Oladipo carved out an important role on the Heat during the 2022 NBA playoffs. CLICK HERE
- HULLS COULDN'T SAY NO: Former Indiana point guard Jordan Hulls was headed into his 10th season of professional basketball, but an opportunity to join Mike Woodson's coaching staff at his alma mater was too good to deny. CLICK HERE