The Los Angeles Lakers have opted not to re-sign Isaiah Thomas to a second 10-day contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, ending his second stint in purple and gold after just 10 days. The Lakers are eligible to sign one more replacement player after Rajon Rondo entered health and safety protocols on Sunday, but Thomas will not be that player.
The Lakers and Isaiah Thomas won’t do a second 10-day contract, making him a free agent, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Multiple teams are expected to express interest in Thomas, who averaged 9.3 points in four games for Lakers.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 26, 2021
Thomas came out hot after being signed out of the G League as an emergency replacement player, scoring 19 points off the bench against the Minnesota Timberwolves in his first game and earning a start for his second one against the Chicago Bulls, scoring 13.
But teams quickly realized that the Lakers don’t have the defenders to cover for the diminutive, generously listed as 5’9 guard, and Phoenix and San Antonio went out of their way to attack him, leading the team to sign Darren Collison the day before Thomas’ contract expired, and giving Thomas a DNP-CD for Christmas vs. the Brooklyn Nets.
All of this makes it wholly unsurprising that the team opted not to keep Thomas around. The situation they were in when they signed him was just so drastically different than the one he ultimately played in. When the Lakers agreed to sign Thomas — and he and his camp excitedly leaked it — they thought they were going to be without Russell Westbrook for at least 7-10 days and would need all the shot creation and ball-handling they could get.
But when Russ was unexpectedly cleared to return from the health and safety protocols just a day later, the team couldn’t exactly go back on their word and not sign Thomas. They did the right thing, kept their agreement and gave him a real chance, and Thomas showed he can still score at the NBA level. He just can’t defend anywhere close to it at this point, and on a team with as much creation as the Lakers that is also severely lacking in reliable defenders without Anthony Davis, there just isn’t a need for his spark plug scoring, or an ability to cover for teams seeking Thomas out and shooting over him like a folding chair.
So best of luck to Thomas moving forward as he continues to try and find an NBA home for his admittedly inspiring comeback story, but that just wasn’t going to be the Lakers, at least not long-term. He clearly still has something to give the right team, but it would just have to be in a situation with more defensive aptitude — with desperate enough need for Thomas’s scoring to find motivation to hide him — than this current Lakers roster has.
This developing story may update with more information. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.