It appears as though that’s likely to change in the next several hours, however.
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, the Lakers will likely be signing Johnson to a new 10-day contract — of the standard variety — on Thursday. Los Angeles freed up a roster spot for the 25-year-old when the team was able to complete the Rajon Rondo trade earlier in the week.
While there was an expectation that the Lakers would simply sign Johnson for the rest of the year, they maintain a level of flexibility by sticking with a 10-day (for now). Chances are, though, that he’ll remain on the roster through the end of the year, especially if he continues to perform at a high level.
Johnson Has Been a Difference-Maker
Although teams have been cycling through hardship players at a breakneck pace since the NBA got hit with a league-wide Covid outbreak last month, Johnson’s stint in his home state has been a different animal. After signing on the dotted line, he found himself playing a big-time role with the team and contributing to wins in short order.
For his part, Lakers coach Frank Vogel was effusive in his praise for the seventh-year pro.
“I think he’s done a great job for us so far. His toughness and hustle is something that I think our team really needs,” said Vogel before the baller’s hardship deal expired. “He has provided a valuable role in that regard.”
In five games with the Lakers — three of which were starts — Johnson has averaged 6.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.0 steals per contest. He has also connected on 45.8% of his shot attempts and 25% from three-point range.
Along the way, Johnson has been a positive on the court for Los Angeles (with a net rating of 2.7). And while that may not seem like a major feat, it’s one that has eluded the likes of Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker and others this season.
Johnson At a Glance
After earning All Pac-12 and Freshman of the Year honors at Arizona and getting drafted in the mid-lottery range in 2015, Johnson went on to play in parts of four seasons with the Detroit Pistons. Alas, his offensive game failed to develop as the team had hoped and he was ultimately dealt to the Pelicans in 2019.
That summer, he signed a free-agent deal with the Toronto Raptors, with whom he spent the next two seasons.
In the fall of 2021, he signed a camp deal with the Chicago Bulls and there was an expectation among some that he would earn a roster spot this season. Instead, he was cut, after which he found his way to the G League’s South Bay Lakers.
He would play in six games for LA’s affiliate, averaging 15.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.2 steals. He was later inked to a hardship deal by the Bulls, but never saw the court before the deal expired. From there, he landed with the Lakers.
Johnson’s defense has always been lauded, but that lack of an offensive game that prompted the Pistons to give up on him persists. His career conversion rate of 59.1% within three feet of the hoop is mediocre for a player of his profile, and it gets worse the farther out you go.
For his career, Johnson is just a 37.6% shooter overall and a 29.7% shooter from deep.