Isaiah Thomas is expected to come off the bench when he makes his Los Angeles Lakers debut Saturday night against the Dallas Mavericks.
Thomas, who was acquired from the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, and coach Luke Walton and had dinner together in Dallas on Friday and discussed expectations and roles, according to ESPN.
The young Lakers (23-31) have won eight of their last 10 games and 12 of their last 16.
Walton’s intention is to integrate Thomas slowly into the offense and the point guard agrees with the strategy, sources told ESPN. The plan is for Thomas to eventually work himself into position to join the starting lineup.
“This is about Isaiah and what he can do to help this young team continue to grow and to win,” Thomas’ agent, Aaron Goodwin, told ESPN on Saturday morning. “He’s met with Luke and (assistant coach) Brian Shaw and he understands the direction of the team, and wants to come in and contribute the right way. Everything else will work itself out.”
Thomas and forward Channing Frye were traded to the Lakers in exchange for guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Larry Nance Jr. The Lakers also received a top-three protected 2018 first-round pick.
The 29-year-old Thomas, who continues to work himself back into form after a hip injury, is playing on an expiring contract — he will become an unrestricted free agent in July — which made him attractive for the Lakers, who will now have the space to add two max contracts in 2018 or 2019.
Thomas averaged 14.7 points and 4.5 assists in 15 games in Cleveland this season while shooting 36.1 percent from the field, including 25.3 percent from 3-point range. Last season for the Boston Celtics, he averaged 28.9 points while shooting 46.3 percent from the field.
The Lakers’ franchise rookie point guard Lonzo Ball could return from an MCL sprain after the All-Star break.
“We need a point guard,” Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, said this week. “So especially with that type of experience and the fact that he can score the basketball and pass it, we want to get (Thomas) in here fast. We told him that.
“He’s day-to-day, (Ball) is. We don’t know when he’s coming back. We need somebody to come in there and lead our troops. (Brandon Ingram has) been doing a fabulous job but we’ve gotta get another guy in here. That’s why IT was important for us to make this move. And also, a veteran that can also help Lonzo. ‘This is what you need to look for in when you’re playing against this guy. This is what I’ve been doing in terms of my regiment of when I work out.’ All those things — we didn’t have anybody to teach Lonzo anything. Hopefully IT can come in and do that.”
–Field Level Media