The Los Angeles Lakers hit a home run at the NBA trade deadline. Not only was the team able to move on from Russell Westbrook but the front office built a roster that is younger and more talented without having to give up any substantial assets.
With one more open roster spot to utilize, the focus has now shifted to the buyout market and the means in which Los Angeles can improve there. While they do not have the record of a contender, Los Angeles has to be considered a contending team after the deadline and thus can lure in some promising buyout targets.
Lakers fans were thrilled when it was reported that Stanley Johnson was being waived by the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. That seemingly opened the door for the Lakers to reunite with Johnson, who is a solid defender and is shooting a career-high 45% from three.
The problem is that a silly (and complicated) rule in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement will most likely keep this from happening. It appeared as if Johnson checked the boxes for LA to bring him back in but in reality, the literal interpretation of the rule indicates that a Johnson reunion is not possible this season.
Can Stanley Johnson sign with the Los Angeles Lakers? (Updated with new information)
*UPDATE* NBA insider Marc Stein confirmed that the Los Angeles Lakers are unable to acquire Stanley Johnson because of the re-acquiring rule. Johnson’s tenure with the Spurs does not matter and the Lakers will not be able to sign Johnson until August 24.
Based on the literal interpretation of the CBA, the Lakers would not be able to sign Stanley Johnson because they traded him during this league year to the Utah Jazz. There is a reacquiring rule in the CBA that keeps teams from trading players only and then re-signing them if the new team swiftly waives them.
The confusion with Johnson’s situation stems from the fact that he had an in-between stint with the Spurs. He was traded to the Jazz, waived weeks later, then eventually signed with the Spurs. San Antonio being an in-between stop seemingly canceled out this re-acquiring rule.
However, that may not be the case. The rule essentially states that if the Jazz were to trade Johnson to the Spurs then the Lakers would no longer be the last team to trade him during the league year. Thus, the re-acquire rule would apply to Utah, not Los Angeles.
Many assumed that the language of that rule also extended to this situation, where Johnson was traded, waived, and then waived again. The problem is that there is no language in the CBA that addresses this exact scenario. So if the league is going by the book, the book says it is not possible.
That being said, the original re-acquire rule was not made with this situation in mind. It was made so teams wouldn’t make some kind of salary-dump trade only to re-sign the original player they traded. This situation is not why the rule was put in place.
So, as Larry Coon mentions above, Rob Pelinka and co. could reach out to the league offices to see if this transaction falls outside of the re-acquire rule. There has not been an example of this situation since the rule was put in place, so there is no previous precedent to go off of.
There are quite a few Los Angeles Lakers buyout candidates for the team to consider after the deadline. Here are the five best options.
Perhaps the league learns from this situation and agrees to a clause for future seasons, but the league year underway, it seems likely that they will simply go by the book and not allow the Lakers to sign Stanley Johnson.