The Los Angeles Lakers are planning to sign two-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day contract via the NBA’s hardship exception, according to multiple reports on Thursday. Thomas was most recently with the Denver Nuggets’ G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold. He scored 42 points in his debut in the minor league’s annual showcase.
Thomas said earlier this week that he was “very close” to signing with the Lakers in the offseason. In the wake of this, it would seem that was a pretty accurate interpretation.
The Lakers are likely eligible for the hardship exception because they have at least four players who are sick or injured are guaranteed to miss at least three games, per Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ. Most recently, they now also have Russell Westbrook entering COVID protocols, which could have been part of their motivation in adding Thomas.
However, according to multiple reports, they haven’t been granted the exception yet.
Sources confirm the Lakers are planning to sign veteran Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day hardship exception contract provided they’re granted one.— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) December 16, 2021
If LAL - which has full 15 man roster - is granted a hardship exemption by the NBA, it plans to sign Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day contract on Friday, sources tell ESPN. Ironically, Thomas was traded from CLE to LAL in ‘18 in deal that opened up the cap space for LAL to sign LeBron— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 16, 2021
Should the Lakers be granted the exception, it will end once one of the sick or injured players returns to the court. In other words, Thomas’s time in Los Angeles will likely be limited unless he nails his audition.
In theory, the Lakers could have used this opportunity to get an extended look at a wing player like James Ennis, and you can bet there are fans that are upset they didn’t, but there’s really no harm in the 10-day contract going to Thomas.
If Thomas looks as out of place as he did he last time he stepped on an NBA court in April, then the Lakers can part ways with him in a week. If he looks more like the player that made an All-NBA team in 2017, then maybe they’ll consider him in the event that they make a trade involving one or more of their backup guards, or even as an alternative to Avery Bradley, who’s on a non-guaranteed contract.
What I’m saying is that there’s nothing bad that can come out of the Lakers signing Thomas; if anything, this makes Celtics fans mad and that’s always a positive. Just enjoy the ride.