The Cleveland Cavaliers surprised everyone when they made a huge roster overhaul before the February 8 NBA trade deadline. One of the casualties is Isaiah Thomas, who was sent to the Los Angeles Lakers, together with Channing Frye and Cavs’ own 2018 first-round pick, for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. Before the trade, Thomas expressed his intention to stay and help the Cavaliers return to the NBA Finals.
But with Cleveland struggling, they have to do what is needed to be done in order to strengthen their chance of reclaiming the NBA championship title this season. Isaiah Thomas hasn’t been his usual self since returning from a hip injury that sidelined him since the last season’s Eastern Conference Finals. Aside from his poor performance on both ends of the floor, Thomas was having some off-court issues with his teammates and coach Tyronn Lue.
As of now, the only thing Thomas needs to do is to focus on reviving his career on his new team, the Los Angeles Lakers. According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka have already contacted the All-Star point guard, who is reportedly “ecstatic” to be a Laker. However, it remains unknown if his role with the purple and gold have been discussed during the conversation.
Per Bill Oram of Southern California News Group, Johnson said Lonzo Ball will remain as their starting point guard despite the addition of Isaiah Thomas on their team. Ball is currently recovering from a sprained MCL and his return remains uncertain. Once he’s 100 percent healthy, Thomas will likely come off the bench. Johnson said the All-Star point guard will still get enough playing time despite the demotion.
“It’s not about starting, it’s about how many minutes you get,” Johnson said, via ESPN. “He’s going to get a lot of minutes.”
However, it seems like Isaiah Thomas won’t buy the idea just being the backup of Lonzo Ball. According to Rachel Nichols of ESPN, Thomas’ agent told her that IT doesn’t want to come off the bench. If the Lakers will insist, they may consider pushing a contract buyout that will enable Thomas to join a title contender.
Thomas’ departure won’t hurt the Lakers at all since they already get what they really want in the blockbuster deal with the Cavaliers. Aside from acquiring another first-round pick, the Lakers created enough salary cap space to sign maximum-salaried players in 2018 or 2019 free agency. Thomas, who is expected to test the free agency market this summer, isn’t included on the Lakers’ list of offseason targets.