Despite playing for the Lakers for barely a month, Wenyen Gabriel made such an impression on the team that he earned himself a long-term contract. On Friday, the Lakers announced they had signed Gabriel to a standard NBA contract with Shams Charania of The Athletic reporting it is a two-year deal with a team option for 2022-23.
Wenyen Gabriel signed a two-year contract with Lakers, with a team option for the 2022-23 season, sources said. https://t.co/DvxG2mZqmI
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 8, 2022
Because of technicalities, this is barely a two-year deal. The first “year” of the contract will comprise the final two games of the regular season for the Lakers with the second year being a team option for next season. It is the same contract Stanley Johnson signed in January of this year as both players will have team options next season.
Gabriel has played just 17 games for the Lakers, the first of those coming back on March 3. Signed initially on a two-way deal, Gabriel has spent the entirety of his time with the Lakers and eventually played his way into a bigger role with the team.
After playing just over five minutes through the team’s first five games, Gabriel eventually played his way into a starting role. Over the last 11 games, Gabriel has started four times and is averaging 16.7 minutes per game while scoring 6.5 points per game on 56.9% shooting.
Gabriel’s impact on the Lakers has been both a testament to his talent level but also the dire nation the Lakers were in. While Gabriel is a talented player that certainly is worthy of an NBA contract, that he immediately stepped into the Lakers and made a big impact is rather damning on the state of the Lakers roster.
None of that is Gabriel’s fault, though, and the Lakers seem to at least have a decent start on a productive bench for next season, should they pick up the team options on Gabriel and Johnson. At the very least, it’ll be a significantly younger bench than the one the team had to start this season.
This also opens up a two-way contract that the team could potentially use over the final two games of the regular season, or have as an option to sign a young player either on the South Bay Lakers or not or an undrafted rookie this summer as well.