The Los Angeles Lakers announced that they have signed forward Wenyen Gabriel to a standard NBA contract. The Lakers did not announce the terms of the deal, but it is reported to be a two-year deal with a team option for the 2022-23 season.
The Lakers opened up a roster spot to make this possible by waiving Trevor Ariza on Thursday, marking an end to his second tenure with the team.
While Rob Pelinka has surely made a lot of mistakes this season, this was actually a savvy move as not only does it allow them to keep Gabriel around next season after he’s impressed in his limited time with the team, but it also could potentially give them a tradeable contract to helps deals work this offseason.
The deadline for the Lakers to waive and sign players is Sunday, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them do the same with another veteran player as they did Ariza in order to bring in another young player.
Gabriel originally signed with the Lakers on a two-way contract at the beginning of March and he has appeared in 17 games (four starts) for them since then. The 25-year-old has averaged 5.7 points and 3.8 rebounds in 14.6 minutes, overall putting up 3.3 points and 2.5 rebounds in 75 career games (five starts) for the Lakers, L.A. Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings.
What Gabriel has brought the Lakers is some youthful energy as well as length and floor spacing, which is something they were missing all season prior to his arrival and insertion into the rotation.
With him being converted to a standard NBA contract, this also opens up a two-way spot so the Lakers can get a look at one of their G League players like Mac McClung or Jay Huff
James ruled out for season
Gabriel should get a chance at extended minutes in the Lakers’ final two games of the season, but one player who won’t is LeBron James.
As James continues to deal with an ankle sprain, the Lakers officially ruled him out for the remained of the season, which makes sense given they were eliminated from postseason contention.
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