The last couple of weeks have been extremely difficult in the NBA with dozens of players having to miss time due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as the Omicron variant continues to make its way through the country.
The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the teams that have been hit hard as more than half their roster has spent time in health and safety protocols. While Dwight Howard and Talen Horton-Tucker were recently able to return, they’re still without Avery Bradley, Malik Monk, Kent Bazemore and Austin Reaves.
Additionally, Trevor Ariza was also recently placed in health and safety protocols after returning and playing two games after missing the whole season with an ankle injury.
Under the NBA’s new rules, teams are required to bring in replacement players on 10-day Hardship Exception contracts to replace the players they are missing. L.A. has already brought in Isaiah Thomas and Jemerrio Jones, and it appears some more reinforcements are on the way.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers are signing both Darren Collison and Stanley Johnson to 10-day contracts:
The Lakers are planning to sign Darren Collison and Stanley Johnson to 10-day hardship deals, sources tell ESPN. The Lakers are hopeful they'll be available for the Christmas Day game vs. Brooklyn.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 24, 2021
The Collison signing is a long time in the making as the Lakers have had interest in signing the L.A. native since the 2019-20 season when he was retired and visited Staples Center on a couple of occasions.
While he ultimately decided to stay retired then, it appears he is now ready to return and play for the Lakers. The 34-year-old last placed for the Indiana Pacers in 2019 and while he had a successful 10-year NBA career, it will be interesting to see what he has left after sitting out the last two seasons.
This does mark a reunion for Collison though as he shared a backcourt at UCLA with Russell Westbrook more than a decade ago.
Johnson is another familiar face for the Lakers as he began the season with their G League team before signing a 10-day contract with the Chicago Bulls when they had a number of players in health and safety protocols.
The former lottery pick did not appear in any games for the Bulls though and in six games for the South Bay Lakers, he averaged 15.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.2 steals.
Considering the Lakers’ lack of wing players and recent struggles defensively, Johnson may get immediate playing time to help in that regard.
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