Lakers sign guard Stanley Johnson for another 10-day contract

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The Los Angeles Lakers signed a second 10-day contract with Stanley Johnson, the team announced Thursday. The Lakers were in an unusual position with Johnson due to league rules. They initially signed him using a hardship exemption based on the number of players they had in the league’s health and safety protocols. When that 10-day deal expired, the Lakers no longer had any players in the protocols, so they couldn’t sign it with another exemption.

This left the Lakers with two options. By trading Rajon Rondo for the Cleveland Cavaliers, they were able to free up a place in the one-season roster that they could have given Johnson immediately. However, that would have been the most expensive way to hold him back. Instead, they preferred to sign him for another 10-day contract. The problem is, league rules state that teams cannot sign 10-day contracts for players under normal circumstances until January 5. His contract expired on Jan.3, so the Lakers had to wait two days. That meant playing Tuesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings without Johnson before re-signing him.

There are two advantages to signing 10 day agreements with Johnson. The first is obvious: flexibility. If the Lakers had signed Johnson for the season just to see him hurt or be ineffective, they would have to pay him anyway. By using 10 days, they can monitor his health and performance a bit longer before committing. From a flexibility standpoint, it also allows the Lakers to trade a bit easier. Places on the list are tight at this point in the season, so the Lakers with the ability to keep one open could help them strike a multiplayer deal by the deadline.

The other benefit is financial. Minimum wage contracts signed during the season are prorated, which means they decrease every day. Even though the Lakers only save a few days, every dollar they don’t give Johnson counts due to their involvement in the luxury tax. Even though the flexibility of the list is a bigger motivator here, money matters too.

Johnson was a strong Lakers defender on his first 10-day contract. He started three of his five games in Los Angeles and averaged over 25 minutes. It’s unclear what role he’ll occupy in the future, but at the bare minimum, he’s proven he deserves a longer look. The Lakers are giving it to him now.

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