The Los Angeles Lakers have big ambitions, as they are aiming to add two superstars to their promising roster. Keeping Lakers point guard Isaiah Thomas is unlikely to become their top priority this summer, especially if the former All-Star demands a long-term deal.
Thomas, who was sent to the Lakers before the trade deadline, will become a free agent after the 2017-18 NBA season. In 16 games with the Lakers, the 29-year-old point guard has come off the bench in all but one game. He has made it clear before that he wants to start, but it appears he is now more open to playing a backup role, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Lakers already have their point guard of the future in rookie Lonzo Ball. If Thomas decides to return to Los Angeles, he will likely have the same role that he has now, coming off the bench to backup Ball. Thomas told Sam Amick of USA Today earlier this month that he is not a sixth man, and he deserves to start because he is a two-time All-Star in the league.
Thomas’ statement about playing the sixth man role generated speculation that he will likely leave the Lakers because they are expected to prioritize developing Ball. However, Thomas had a different tune on Tuesday, saying that he would love to stay in Los Angeles even in a backup role “if things work out” for both parties.
“If things work out I would love to be here,” Thomas said. “You just never know. With free agency you’ve got to keep your options open. I have no complaints since I’ve stepped foot and put a Laker uniform on.”
Thomas is averaging 15.6 points and 5.2 assists for the Lakers. While he is coming off the bench, he has played a critical role, and is getting significant minutes. He is also helping Ball and other young players such as Julius Randle and Kyle Kuzma develop a winning mentality.
At times, he can be seen yelling at this teammates, but Lakers coach Luke Walton told the LA Times last week that it should not be taken negatively. He said that Thomas has no “selfish intentions” because he is just trying to share his experience to their young players.
Speculations about Thomas’ future in Los Angeles will not end until the dust settles in free agency this summer. If the Lakers fail to land two max-level players in the offseason, Thomas might get another shot in Los Angeles if he agrees to accept a lucrative one-year contract.