The Los Angeles Lakers plan to sign LeBron James' former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Tristan Thompson to fill their empty roster spot ahead of the playoffs, according to Dave McMenamin. In addition, they'll waive Davon Reed and sign Shaq Harrison for extra backcourt depth.
It's hard to imagine either player will play many meaningful minutes, but Thompson is a notable addition given his postseason experience and connection to James. Thompson has appeared in 88 career playoff games and went to four consecutive Finals alongside James on the Cavaliers from 2015-18.
When the Cavs came back from 3-1 down to defeat the Golden State Warriors and win the first title in franchise history in 2016, Thompson played a significant role. He averaged 10.3 points, 10.1 rebounds and one block per game during that Finals, and his 15-point, 16-rebound, 6-of-6-shooting performance in a must-win Game 6 stood out as one of the defining moments of his career.
The reports connecting Thompson to the Lakerswhen the team was dealing with multiple injuries and worked out various big men. Given that none of the other options were particularly inspiring, it's little surprise the Lakers went with Thompson. If you're adding an extra big man for emergency depth, you might as well pick one who James trusts and will be a seamless addition to the locker room.
It's worth noting that Thompson has not played this season. He spent time with the Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls last season, and in 57 games with those teams averaged six points and 5.1 rebounds on 52.8% shooting. After going unsigned in free agency he has spent the last year working out in the hopes of making a return. Now, he's found a spot.
The Lakers enter the final day of the regular season in seventh place in the Western Conference and have clinched at least a spot in the Play-In Tournament. They can still finish anywhere from sixth to eighth depending on the day's results.