Former Indiana All-Big Ten big man Thomas Bryant continued to see his star rise in the NBA today, as he signed a three-year, $25 million free agent deal with the Washington Wizards, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported.
Bryant had a breakout season with the Wizards in 2018-19, averaging 10.5 points and 6.3 rebounds in 72 games, including 53 starts. He'd spent the early part of his career shuttling between the NBA and the G League, but he became an important piece for a rebuilding Wizards team that went 32-50 this season. He shot 61.6% from the field and led the league in 2-point field-goal percentage, hitting a blistering 68.5% on shots inside the arc.
With the Wizards in flux – they haven't hired a full-time general manager since parting ways with longtime executive Ernie Grunfeld in April – Bryant was reportedly a top priority for the team in free agency. He'll be getting a significant pay raise: the 6-foot-10 Rochester, New York, native made a combined $2.2 million in his first two seasons in the league.
I will admit that I was little skeptical of the 21-year-old Bryant finding a role with an NBA team when he left Indiana. His talent was always obvious, but I wondered whether he would be able to put on enough weight to bang with some of the tougher big men in the league. He has done that and then some and seems like he will be a fixture of the Wizards' lineup going forward. After his performance last season, this deal is well-deserved.