The Los Angeles Lakers landed Isaiah Thomas on deadline day, giving head coach Luke Walton a legitimate point guard in the rotation. Thomas won’t be in the starting lineup to start his Lakers career, though. The plan is to “slowly” integrate Thomas into the offense off the bench, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN.
A backup, scoring guard off the bench for the Lakers? Fascinating.
It appears the plan is to treat Thomas like a direct replacement of Jordan Clarkson in the bench rotation, but as a point guard instead of a shooting guard. Both Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka noted they could see Thomas playing alongside Lonzo Ball during their post-deadline press conference, so that’s something else to consider down the road.
It will be interesting to see how long the Lakers hold on to this philosophy. There are only two games left until the All-Star break, and it’s hard to imagine Lonzo not being back once play resumes. If the plan is to play him off the bench as a sixth man for a bit, there’s reason to stick to it for a few games while everyone gets a feel for playing together.
Another interesting morsel is that Walton and Thomas had dinner in Dallas Friday night, discussing expectations going forward. They walked away in agreement of where things stand, according to ESPN:
Lakers coach Luke Walton and Thomas had dinner together in Dallas on Friday and discussed expectations and roles.
With the young Lakers playing their best ball of the season -- they have won eight of their past 10 contests and 12 of their past 16 -- Walton’s intention is to integrate Thomas slowly into the offense, and the point guard is in agreement with that, sources tell ESPN.
That’s a little different than the deadline reaction, which is a good sign:
Rachel Nichols says that Isaiah Thomas' agent texted her in all caps: “HE IS NOT COMING OFF THE BENCH"— Rob Lopez (@r0bato) February 8, 2018
IT's camp would want a buyout before he comes off the bench for LA. pic.twitter.com/jHofuzx1d9