It only took 15 games before the Cleveland Cavaliers realized that Isaiah Thomas was not a good fit for their team. Hours before the February 8 trade deadline, Thomas, together with Channing Frye and a protected first-round pick, was sent to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. The move was part of the Lakers’ plan to clear salary cap space for two maximum-salaried players.
It’s easy to understand why the Lakers won’t consider bringing Frye back. He’s old and could be wanting to spend the remaining years of his career playing for a title contender. However, Thomas’ situation is different. The 29-year-old point guard is only one year removed from an All-Star season where he averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists on shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Despite coming off the bench in his first nine games as a Laker, Isaiah Thomas has been an important part of Luke Walton’s rotation, especially in clutch situations. The goal for Thomas right now is to continue improving his performance in order to increase his value in the upcoming offseason where he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent. If things go well in the final games of the 2017-18 NBA season, Brad Botkin of CBS Sports believes the Lakers may consider re-signing Thomas this summer.
“Let’s say this thing keeps going well for the Lakers to close out this season, and Thomas feels wanted, and useful, and feels his game coming back around playing with a pass-first guy like Lonzo in a super uptempo system, and all the sudden the Lakers have a guy who was a second-team All-NBA player less than a season ago who might not have much of a free-agent market to dive into. Could they get him for a Lou Williams-type deal — three years, $24 million?”
However, it’s very unlikely for the Lakers to give Isaiah Thomas a max contract. As most people think, they will only use their salary cap space for players like Paul George, LeBron James, or DeMarcus Cousins. Botkin thinks the best case scenario for the Lakers is to convince Thomas to sign a Lou-William-type deal which could be a three-year, $24 million deal.
Thomas may insist that he deserves a better deal, but he should consider the fact that his chance of landing max contract this summer is close to impossible. According to ESPN, there are only few NBA teams who will have enough salary cap space this summer. These include the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks, and the Phoenix Suns. Unfortunately for Thomas, most of those teams either don’t need a point guard, are rebuilding, or could draft a point guard.