Isaiah Thomas will come off the bench in his debut with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to an ESPN report, and that is something his agent has already implied will not be a long-term decision.
But first things first. Let’s check out the ESPN story by noted newsbreaker Chris Haynes:
“Isaiah Thomas will come off the bench when he makes his Los Angeles Lakers debut Saturday night against the Dallas Mavericks, league sources told ESPN. Lakers coach Luke Walton and Thomas had dinner together in Dallas on Friday and discussed expectations and roles.”
Thomas is a 5-foot-9 point guard who arrived in LA (along with forward Channing Frye) after a trade-deadline deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
While rookie point guard Lonzo Ball may not be the Lakers’ best player, he has been hailed as the franchise’s new cornerstone (when healthy). Ball and Thomas just happen to play the same position — and many around the league will tell you it is the most important position. Point guard in the NBA is like the quarterback in football. A great one can carry you to great heights.
According to Haynes’ report, “the plan is for Thomas to eventually work himself into position to join the starting five.”
Meanwhile, after the trade, Lakers top basketball man Magic Johnson said Ball will remain the starter, no questions asked.
“Lonzo is our starting point guard. That hasn’t changed,” Johnson told LA reporters. “He’s a young man that gives us so many different options in what he can do. But we also value what Isaiah can bring to this team. I think he can give us some of that scoring punch that left with Jordan (Clarkson).”
Clarkson, traded to the Cavs as part of the deal, provided scoring punch off the bench for the Lakers.
Anyway, back to Thomas’ agent, Aaron Goodwin. He reportedly sent a text to ESPN personality Rachel Nichols following the Lakers-Cavs trade that insisted Thomas will start — or seek a buyout. (See video below.)
Rachel Nichols says that Isaiah Thomas’ agent texted her in all caps: “HE IS NOT COMING OFF THE BENCH”
IT’s camp would want a buyout before he comes off the bench for LA. pic.twitter.com/jHofuzx1d9
— Rob Lopez (@r0bato) February 8, 2018
But if Thomas is to start when Ball returns, it will be because Thomas beats out Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. All Caldwell-Pope did in his previous game was play 31 minutes and score 20 points on an efficient 7-of-10 shooting.
Right now, it seems like KCP has earned the role — especially when you consider the fact the Lakers have won eight of 10 (without Ball, too).
A big reason Thomas was shipped out of Cleveland was because he wasn’t a fit, either on the floor or in the locker room. He can become a free agent after the season, and while he’s seeking a big payday, he still very clearly has not totally recovered from last season’s nasty hip injury.
Is Thomas now bringing more drama to a franchise that’s already experienced plenty with Ball’s dad and his harsh criticisms of the coaching staff?
In fairness, it’s too early to say. But when it comes to this season, Thomas’ track record on keeping the peace and just trying to adapt to his surroundings has not been strong.