The Los Angeles Lakers announced they have officially re-signed defensive-minded forward Stanley Johnson. The terms of the contract were not announced, but it is reported to be a two-year contract. The deal spans the remainder of the 2021-22 season and gives the Lakers a team option on Johnson at the veteran minimum for 2022-23.
Johnson was originally brought in by the Lakers — via their G League team — on a hardship 10-day contract. With nearly half the roster out due to health and safety protocols, Johnson was thrust into a major role in his first game on Christmas Day against the Brooklyn Nets.
Despite a loss, Johnson’s defense on James Harden kept the Lakers afloat, affording him even greater opportunities in following games. After the 10-day hardship contract expired, Johnson was signed to his first of two standard 10-days, the maximum allowed by the NBA.
After his second standard 10-day — and third overall — he had carved out such an essential role that bringing him back for the remainder of the season felt inevitable. Johnson played 14 games over his three 10-day deals, starting in six games.
In that time, he averaged 6.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game 51.6% from the field and 34.4% from three. However, his impact is almost exclusively on the defensive end, where he has become one of the team’s best perimeter and on-ball defenders.
Johnson’s most recent game with the Lakers prior to signing his two-year contract was perhaps the best glimpse into his role moving forward. He started as the team’s small forward in Anthony Davis’ first game back from an MCL sprain.
He played 28 minutes in the Lakers’ win over the Nets and was a plus-10 despite only scoring four points on five field-goal attempts. Given head coach Frank Vogel’s emphasis on defense, Johnson should be a primary choice to start so long as the team does not make any significant trade deadline moves.
LeBron James looking forward to growing chemistry
With Davis finally back in the lineup, the Lakers may be able to build some momentum in their season. This is exactly what James is hoping for following their win over the Nets.
“The more minutes that we log, we continue to see how dynamic we can be both offensively and defensively and it also puts everybody in their regular positions,” James said. “We just try to stay in rhythm as a team. We want to continue to work on habits, but along the way we want to win ball games as well.”
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