After their plans to do so were reported on Thursday, the Lakers have officially signed Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day contract via the NBA’s hardship exception, the team announced. Thomas will wear No. 31, and be available when the team plays against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.
OFFICIAL: Welcome back, IT ⌚️ pic.twitter.com/VuF98NRZnm— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 17, 2021
This will just be IT’s 18th career game with the Lakers, but his third jersey number. He wore No. 7 after being traded from Cleveland in 2018 but switched to 3 once Corey Brewer was cut. Both, notably, are taken by current Lakers. https://t.co/4JpKcGCoct— Bill Oram (@billoram) December 17, 2021
The Lakers getting approved for the exception allowing them to sign Thomas also officially confirms that the NBA expects at least three of Dwight Howard, Talen Horton-Tucker, Austin Reaves, Malik Monk and Avery Bradley to miss at least three games in health and safety protocols. Monk, Howard and Horton-Tucker will miss their second game vs. the Wolves, while Bradley and Reaves will miss their first.
Kendrick Nunn, by virtue of missing the whole season so far, has already missed the minimum number of games to count towards the four players missing at least three games necessary for the league to approve the Lakers to use this roster exception.
According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, Thomas has already joined the Lakers in Minnesota in preparation for their Friday night game against the Timberwolves. The team was likely waiting to announce this move not only until they had confirmation from the NBA that they would receive a hardship waiver to sign Thomas as a replacement player, but also because they probably did not want to start the clock on his 10-day contract until they absolutely had to, given how injury and COVID ravaged they currently are.
Thomas can remain with the Lakers until any of the following:
- His 10-day contract expires, after which the team can either sign him to a second 10-day contract, let him go, or cut a player from their 15-man roster to sign him for the rest of the season. The maximum number of 10-day contracts a team can sign any single player to during a single season is two.
- They no longer have at least four players missing, at which point they would have to either cut Thomas, or cut another player to make room for him.
For more on how Thomas can (and can’t) help this team amidst these current absences, check out our own Cooper Halpern’s analysis of the 5’9 veteran’s fit with this injury-depleted roster.
This developing story may update with more information.