The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired former All-Star and crafty scorer Isaiah Thomas, but plenty of question marks lie in the chance of his return next season, his fit next to Lonzo Ball and most importantly, the future of the Lakers.
It is the morning of Feb. 8, 2018, and NBA fans all around the world are constantly navigating through various social media devices to see who is about to end up on a new team by the middle of the day. Plenty of surprises came our way, but arguably none more intriguing, to say the least, than the Los Angeles Lakers’ acquisition of Isaiah Thomas.
What was this trade all about?
The trade involved sending Jordan Clarkson and high-flying act Larry Nance Jr. to Cleveland in return for Thomas, Channing Frye and a pick. While this did throw off many NBA fans, the Lakers are doing nothing except preparing themselves for the future.
The Lakers stood at a record of 23-31 before Thomas stepped foot on the floor for LA, clearly closer to tanking than playoff contention as expected from a young team. The potential is there though. Brandon Ingram is supposedly the next Kevin Durant. Kyle Kuzma has shown flashes of brilliance all season. And of course, there is the one and only Lonzo Ball.
They are young, talented and have the potential to be studs in just a couple years. So why get rid of two other young players when they are already developing the youngsters this season anyway?
Well, it had nothing to do with the talent levels of the newest Cavaliers. In fact, they were some of the best players to come off the bench in the whole league, and the defense (especially Nance’s) will definitely be missed from a defensively-weak Lakers team.
With this trade, Magic Johnson and the Lakers are making it clear that they are doing something that other teams like the Sixers and Timberwolves have already started doing quite well: preparing for the future.
What can Los Angeles do next season?
With this trade, Los Angeles now has enough cap space to sign two free agents to a max deal for the 2018-19 season. This is absolutely huge for the Lakers, as they have been eyeing players like Paul George, LeBron James and seemingly countless other big names since even before this season. Now all of the talk about a couple big signings could become a reality.
The most ambitious (and bandwagon) of Lakers fans are all dead set on James and George both coming to Los Angeles next season. Regardless of the rumors and speculations, there is truly no way of knowing what Los Angeles will do until they announce it themselves. Stay tuned for what should be a wild offseason.
For right now, many of us are curious how the rest of the season will go for the Lakers. It’s a huge question mark if Isaiah Thomas will stay or not, but so far not so good for the former All-Star.
After a debut of 22 points and six assists in purple and gold, he has flopped since then, playing just five minutes against the Pelicans and shooting 3-for-15 against the Timberwolves. The biggest takeaway from all of this? All three games since Thomas’s arrival have been losses.
Unfortunately, the issues don’t stop there. No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball is on the verge of returning from an MCL injury, and just so happens to play the same position as Thomas. There’s no doubt that Magic knows this and has ensured fans that Ball would be starting when he returns.
This leaves us with Thomas, who was an All-Star and third in the league in scoring last season, to come off the bench of a slightly below average Los Angeles team.
I know what you are probably thinking. Just a minute ago, I said I liked the trade for cap space purposes, but now I’m giving reasons why it doesn’t make too much sense.
To be crystal clear, the future of the Lakers absolutely benefited from this deal. However, despite many sources saying Thomas plans to stay in Los Angeles, it just does not seem likely. He has the talent and skillset to be a starter on so many teams, and backing up an inconsistent rookie like Ball is probably not where Thomas wants to be after averaging 28.9 points per game.
If I had to make some not-so-bold predictions about the Lakers’ roster next season, I would say it is one that lacks guys like Julius Randle, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Isaiah Thomas, but adds at least one superstar with Paul George being a feasible and likely candidate. What the Lakers have done with this trade was a very intelligent way to prepare for next season and beyond, but there is almost no doubt that Thomas will once again be wearing a different jersey.
It’s only speculation at this point, but we could see a whole new group of guys wearing purple and gold next season, and I’m already intrigued to see how everything falls into place.
Featured image by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images
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