The Lakers made the widely expected move on Thursday, bringing back Stanley Johnson for his first two accepted non-difficulty 10-day contracts. The move meant that Johnson was able to participate in the team’s 12th practice of the season, and head coach Frank Vogel was pleased with his return after missing a game against the Sacramento Kings, while the team was legally normal 10- Was looking forward to being able to sign the day. Deals.
“We are obviously excited to have him back. He played well for us under the Hardship contract, and just provided an element of defense, toughness and athleticism that we lacked,” Vogel said.
But when Johnson started in three of the five matches he played for the Lakers, Vogel said no one should count on that eventuality when the Lakers host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
“We’re excited to have him back, but obviously not committed to any lineup or anything like that,” Vogel said.
As my co-host Anthony Irwin and I joked on our podcast reacting to Johnson’s return, Frank is likely to be frank in his lack of frankness here. This man defends his starting lineup better than the world leader who achieved his nuclear code, so he was never likely to tip his hand about who would start for the team in a game in more than 24 hours.
Still, there are reasons to expect Johnson to return to the starting unit at some point, even if not against the Hawks. For one thing, the Lakers only have 10-20 days to evaluate if the positives that Johnson showed during his first hardship deal can continue as he gets more time with his new Lakers teammates. , and the best way to get those minutes to evaluate. By using him in that lineup who plays the most (starts).
Additionally, as my colleague Mike Trudell pointed out on Tuesday, we have plenty of evidence that Vogel himself likes some Stanimal, as the starting lineup already features the 25-year-old on a 10-day difficulty deal. Fifth- Most minutes of a Lakers unit.
Vogel said it was little surprise that LA’s 5th most used line-up (Westbrook, Bradley, Monk, Johnson, LeBron) only played 36 minutes. Together (13.5 net rating), but not really. Injury/absence has been a story of the weather. Huge difference. Compared to GSW PHX and UTA’s top lineups: pic.twitter.com/BOfYU1LeOG
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) 5 January 2022
As Vogel pointed out, this is in part due to injuries and illness, but there is still evidence that Vogel liked what he was seeing with Johnson from that group.
So will he go back against Atlanta? Who knows. The Hawks – as our own Nicole Ganglani pointed out in her in-depth game preview – are a big team on the frontcourt. It could be a game where the Lakers decide to introduce Dwight Howard to save LeBron James from defending Clint Capella, or they turn to Trevor Ariza in place of Johnson to get a little more rebounding to the floor. can turn.
But even though Vogel is hesitant about how Johnson will be used, evidence points to him being “excited” as he talks about Johnson’s return to the team. So start or not, expect Johnson to play a key role as the Lakers use the next few weeks to try to decide whether to sign him for the rest of the season.
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