The 2022 Slam Dunk Contest runner-up has signed to play with Russell Westbrook and Damian Jones in LA.
Free agent forward Juan Tuscano-Anderson — member of Golden State Warriors championship team — has reached an agreement with the Los Angeles Lakers, his agent Erika Ruiz of @KlutchSports tells @YahooSports. https://t.co/0eNzwHyMng
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 30, 2022
Toscano-Anderson grew up rooting for the hometown Warriors in Oakland – he wore No. 95 for the Warriors because he grew up on 95th Avenue. After four years at Marquette, he wasn’t picked in the 2015 NBA Draft, so he played professionally in Mexico for three years before making it to the Santa Cruz Warriors training camp roster through a local tryout. One month later he was on the opening night roster for Santa Cruz, and 15 months later he signed a three-year contract with the Warriors, and two years after that, he was an NBA champion.
It’s an incredible story of perseverance from Toscano-Anderson, whose grandfather immigrated to the United States from Mexico. Not only did JTA win a title with his favorite team, for his hometown, he became the first-ever player of Mexican descent to win an NBA title, and he celebrated the win by proudly displaying the flag.
But JTA wasn’t just an inspirational story; he was a huge part of the team, particularly in the 2020-21 season. By May, the former Santa Cruz walk-on was playing 30 minutes per game in the Dubs’ push for a play-in berth, and after he was added to the rotation and playing 20+ minutes per game, the Warriors finished the year 14-4 in games he played. He didn’t light it up as a scorer, but his energy and defense were invaluable, plus he filled up the stat sheet with assists and rebounds instead, even though he was often playing power forward at 6’6”.
A deeper Warriors team cut into JTA’s minutes last season, though he was still a go-to option for Steve Kerr when he needed an injection of hustle or some intense final-seconds defense at the end of a quarter. Toscano-Anderson’s play didn’t change all that much; it was simply that the Warriors had options like Andre Iguodala and their two rookies to lean on. He did finish second in the Slam Dunk Contest, the best showing by a Warrior since Jason Richardson.
Now Juan Toscano-Anderson joins the Lakers, a highly predictable outcome once the Warriors declined to extend a qualifying offer. And also because Juan Toscano-Anderson is represented by Klutch Sports, the unofficial player agency of LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s the 13th Klutch client to join the team since 2017, when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope signed a huge deal with the Lake Show so Rob Pelinka could call his agent Rich Paul and talk about LeBron without getting fined for tampering.
Klutch clients on the Lakers since 2017
Scotty Pippen Jr.
Lonnie Walker IV
Troy Brown Jr.
— pickuphoop (@pickuphoop) June 30, 2022
JTA should compete for minutes with Wenyen Gabriel and Stanley Johnson in the Lakers’ backup wing rotation, and honestly, he’s better than those guys. To a player who will always be a legend in Oakland and south of the border, we wish Juan Toscano-Anderson all the best – except when he’s playing the Warriors – and extend him a hearty, “Adios, amigo.”