Lakers Rumors: Stanley Johnson, LAL Have 'Mutual Interest' in New Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 4, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 02: Stanley Johnson #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a play during the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Crypto.com Arena on January 02, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Lakers and Stanley Johnson have "mutual interest" in prolonging his tenure with the team, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin.

Los Angeles signed Johnson to a 10-day contract on Dec. 24. In five games, he has averaged 6.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 25.2 minutes on the floor.

Head coach Frank Vogel was complimentary toward the 25-year-old and signaled a desire to keep him within the squad:

Dan Woike @DanWoikeSports

Vogel just said "Stanley Johnson has potentially become a factor for us."

Michael J. Duarte @michaeljduarte

"We still hope to have him back for some more games." -- Frank Vogel on Stanley Johnson. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Lakers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Lakers</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LakeSHow?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LakeSHow</a>

The Lakers' step backward on defense is one reason why they find themselves seventh in the Western Conference at 19-19. They were first in defensive rating in 2020-21 (106.8) and now rank 14th (108.4).

Johnson has already earned six steals with L.A., and Vogel explained how the 6'6" forward can be a valuable help defender against smaller guards. He has shown why he can carve out a role in the rotation going forward.

By waiting to table another 10-day contract or a prorated offer for the remainder of the season, the Lakers risk having a different team swoop in to sign him.

Delaying a decision would, however, somewhat lessen the impact on the luxury tax for a prorated deal. Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus highlighted another reason why a few days can make a big difference because of NBA roster rules:

Eric Pincus @EricPincus

This is an often asked misconception. Roster spots are extremely valuable going into the Feb 10 trade deadline. LAL just opened a spot via trade - waiting 2 days to keep Stanley Johnson (assuming) flexible on a pair of 10-days could make necessary room for a trade <a href="https://t.co/b2wYek8i9t">https://t.co/b2wYek8i9t</a>

Eric Pincus @EricPincus

Say they signed Stanley today for the rest of the season, but then in a few weeks need a roster spot, so they have to cut him. Maybe he's claimed off waivers - and they don't get him back. The tax isn't the motivation - the flexibility is

General manager Rob Pelinka or another member of the front office has presumably reached out to Johnson or his representatives to say the team wants him to return.

That could allow the two sides to achieve a resolution that's mutually beneficial.