The Los Angeles Lakers might eventually let Isaiah Thomas walk away in free agency for several reasons. Thomas underwent arthroscopic hip surgery, which will affect his value this summer significantly. The Lakers are expected to prioritize signing big-name players over taking a gamble on the two-time All-Star.
In the event the Lakers decide to let Thomas sign elsewhere, they would need a replacement guard to run the second unit and play alongside Lonzo Ball occasionally. According to Jason Reed of LA Sports Hub, the Lakers should strongly consider signing New York Knicks guard Trey Burke this summer.
Burke is having a resurgence in New York this season, particularly over the past two months. The 25-year-old point guard averaged 12.6 points and 4.4 assists in his first 31 games in New York. In 15 games in March, he posted 14.9 points and 5.4 assists and scored a career-high 42 points in their 137-128 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on March 26.
Reed said that Burke would be among the best options to take Thomas’ role if the 29-year-old point guard finds a new home in the offseason. Burke, the ninth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. He is not expected to demand a lucrative deal, which made Reed believe that the five-year veteran would be “the perfect example of a cheap signing that could have a pretty big impact” on the Lakers.
Thomas showed flashes of brilliance in Los Angeles when he ran the second unit of the team. Burke could do the same alongside Josh Hart next season, according to Reed. He also added that Burke could have a lot of success showcasing his scoring ability when he gets the chance to play with Ball, who is known as a pass-first point guard.
However, it remains to be seen if the Lakers really get a chance to acquire Burke this summer, especially if they successfully sign LeBron James and Paul George. The two superstars would eat most of the cap space of Los Angeles, possibly leaving no more room for other marquee signings.
The Knicks are also expected to strongly consider keeping Burke on the roster after his success over the past several weeks. In fact, Marc Berman of the New York Post reported that Burke appears ready to extend his stay in the Big Apple, saying that the Ohio native is talking as if he would be the starting point guard of New York next season.
“I’m a part of this team,” Burke said. “These are the moments where in the future when you are in the playoffs, you look back on these moments and you cherish being in that spot because you know where this organization has come from, you know the struggles it’s been through.”
Berman also added that Burke has “Michigan ties” with Knicks general manager Scott Perry. He revealed that Perry almost selected the 2013 National College Player of the Year in the 2013 NBA Draft during his time with the Orlando Magic before they went for Victor Oladipo.