Isaiah Thomas, Russell Westbrook Both Available In Lakers' Game Against Timberwolves

Basketball
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JB Baruelo

After a long wait, veteran point guard Isaiah Thomas will have another opportunity to prove that he still deserves to play in the NBA. Recently, the Los Angeles Lakers announced that Thomas will be returning to the team on a 10-day contract. The Lakers initially made the decision to bring Thomas back after their starting point guard, Russell Westbrook, entered the league's health and safety protocols.

With Westbrook in isolation, Thomas is expected to temporarily fill the hole that he would be leaving in the Lakers' backcourt.

Russell Westbrook Cleared To Play Against Timberwolves

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However, recent reports suggest that Westbrook is also available when Thomas makes his season debut with the Purple and Gold. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, Westbrook recently tested out of the NBA's COVID-19 protocols and is set to play when the Lakers go up against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night at Target Center.

After being tested for COVID-19, Westbrook flew from Dallas to Minnesota to wait for the results. Luckily, the two tests that the league required to allow him to play went back negative.

Isaiah Thomas Still Expected To Receive Playing Time

Though Westbrook is cleared to play, Thomas is still expected to receive a decent playing time when he plays his first game with the Lakers in the 2021-22 NBA season. While Westbrook's COVID-19 test went back negative, there are several Lakers' players who entered the league's health and safety protocols that remain in isolation.

These include Austin Reaves, Kendrick Nunn, Talen Horton-Tucker, Malik Monk, Dwight Howard, and Avery Bradley. With most of their guards out, Coach Frank Vogel could utilize Thomas as the primary backup for Westbrook in their upcoming game against the Timberwolves.

Isaiah Thomas' On-Court Impact On Lakers

Thomas may remain a defensive liability due to his height, but Cooper Halpern of SB Nation's Silver Screen and Roll believes that he could make an immediate impact for the Lakers on the offensive end of the floor.

"Less than 24 hours before the Lakers signed him, Isaiah Thomas somehow summoned what appeared to be the 2016-17 version of himself," Halpern wrote. "In his first game as a member of the Nuggets’ G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold, Thomas poured in 42 points, six rebounds, eight assists, and two steals for a stat line that would have compared favorably to almost any of the best ones he posted in the NBA."

Will The Lakers Keep Isaiah Thomas?

While he's only on a 10-day contract, there remains a possibility for the Lakers to extend Thomas' stint with the team in the 2021-22 NBA season. If Thomas plays well in their game against the Timberwolves and succeeding matchups, the Lakers could offer him a second 10-day contract.

Vogel and his staff could use that time to evaluate whether they should make waive a player to create an official roster spot for Thomas or let him go and become an unrestricted free agent once again.

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