Coming off his first start with the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, Isaiah Thomas is in the news again after talking to Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports and making it clear that his stance on coming off the bench hasn’t changed.
“I’m not no sixth man,” he said. “And I won’t be a sixth man [in the future]. I just want everybody to know that, like clear as can be. I’m a two-time All-Star and a starter who has done things that a lot of people in this league haven’t done [when] given that opportunity.
“But I got traded into a situation I can’t control,” he continued. “There’s nothing bad against [Lakers coach] Luke Walton. There’s nothing bad against the Los Angeles Lakers. I’m taking advantage of the opportunity they’ve given me, and then [we’ll] end the season off strong.”
This isn’t the first time Thomas has made comments about his role with the team. Just minutes after he was traded to the Lakers, his agent reportedly texted ESPN’s Rachel Nichols saying, in call caps, “HE IS NOT COMING OFF THE BENCH.” Thomas played down the incident in his first interview with the media, but it doesn’t seem like it bothers him any less than it did then.
Unfortunately, the chances of him starting on any team next season is slim, unless that team doesn’t have a clear cut better option at point guard. That’s not to say Thomas is worse than 29 other points guards in this league, but most teams either have a star point guard or are grooming someone to become their star point guard. For the Lakers, it’s the latter.
“Could he start?” head coach Luke Walton said of Thomas, via Amick. “One hundred percent. Does he deserve to start? Yeah, with what he’s done in his career. Absolutely. [But] we’re in a unique situation here. We have a young team. ... I kind of just challenged [Thomas], that even though he fully wants to start, I said, ‘Look, you’ve been out a long time, [and] to me there’s only, however much, two months left in the season at the time - find the joy. Go find the [joy].”
Thomas will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and his market to date is hard to gauge. But wherever he ends up, it’s looking more and more like it’s not going to be Los Angeles.
All quotes were transcribed via the original report by Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports, which can be found here.