Stanley Johnson immediately became an important role player for the Los Angeles Lakers after joining the Purple and Gold in mid-December.
Despite the many personnel changes the Lakers made in the offseason, L.A. still lacked a player of Johnson’s profile: a strong forward who can successfully guard the rivals’ star wings. Trevor Ariza and Anthony Davis’ injuries further exacerbated that weakness, contributing to the team’s struggles in the first half of the season.
The circumstances allowed Johnson to thrive after signing his first, and then second, 10-day contract with the Lakers — and the forward made the most of the opportunity. With the former lottery pick on the floor, L.A. outscored the rivals by 5.0 points per 100 possessions — the second-highest margin behind Austin Reaves’ 9.1.
Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise the Lakers reportedly want to keep Johnson. Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that after the forward’s contract expired on Wednesday, the team is signing him to a two-year deal:
Forward Stanley Johnson has agreed to a new two-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Johnson’s final 10-day contract expires Wednesday, but his contagious defense, energy and play earn him a guaranteed rest of the year.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 26, 2022
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, it will be a team option for next season:
The Lakers intend to sign F Stanley Johnson to a two-year deal, including a team option for 2022-2023, sources tell ESPN. Deal expected to be signed on Thursday.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 26, 2022
Johnson’s stock appeared to have taken a hit a couple of weeks ago, as he lost his spot in the starting lineup and his minutes dipped from over 24 per game to below 13 a night. But over the last week, he’s made a major impact off the bench — on both ends of the floor, no less.
Johnson averaged 8.4 points in the last five games, shooting 60% from the field and 50% from downtown. He also returned to the starting five for the 106-96 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
With this new contract, Johnson will not only be around for the rest of this season, but next year as well. The exact terms of the contract are not yet known, although it likely won’t be for more than the minimum.
Johnson credits Lakers assistant Mike Penberthy with improving his jump shot
Johnson isn’t known for his offensive skillset, a flaw that became a factor in his struggles to find a team last year. But the forward’s been putting in the effort to complement his highly-regarded defensive skills with better shooting.
Johnson said he’s worked hard to improve his jump shot, crediting Lakers assistant Mike Penberthy — with whom he teamed up with even before reuniting in L.A. this year — with the progress he’s made so far.
“I’ve learned a lot in my life and actually the guy who I’ve worked with the most on my jump shot is Mike Penberthy,” Johnson said.
“He’s really helped me take strides and since he’s been with the Lakers, I haven’t been able to work with him. And now being on the Lakers, I’ve been able to work with him so it’s been really good being able to clean stuff up around the guy who kind of helped me re-do my shot a little when I was in high school and way before now.”
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