• Ryan Porter

Isaiah Thomas May Have Worn the Purple and Gold for the Last Time

The Lakers’ season comes to an end next week, and with it, the likely conclusion of Isaiah Thomas’ time in Los Angeles.

Thomas will be a free agent this summer, but even with the Lakers in the hunt for high-profile superstars, re-signing IT is not out of the question.

What’s yet to be decided are these two questions: Is Thomas willing to take a pay cut, and is he willing to be a sixth man?

Now, Isaiah Thomas is by no means a second-class player. His stats have fallen off since his amazing 2016-2017 season, but when he plays he still produces. That being said, he has the resume to demand quite a bit of money, just not from the Lakers.

Los Angeles is too fixed on recruiting Paul George and/or LeBron James this summer to worry about a max deal with Thomas. Also, the Lakers are considering paying to keep Julius Randle after his breakout season.

In addition, the Lakers have Lonzo Ball, whose rookie season has been under fire, and another young and talented point guard in Josh Hart. With that in mind, Lakers management is unlikely to pay to keep another point guard if it’s unnecessary.

Now, what are some reasons Los Angeles might make a small attempt to keep IT?

Consider what he has gone through this season. First of all, he was essentially traded away for Kyrie Irving, one of the great point guards in the East. Statistics don’t account for the mental fatigue that takes on a player. IT was traded from the city he thought loved him for a supposed better version of himself.

After the trade, he went down with an injury, and upon return was criticized for this lack of chemistry with the Cavaliers.

The NBA fan base has forgotten who IT really is. He obviously played his heart out last year for a fanbase that adored him. He even played in the opening playoff game against Chicago the day after his sister passed away. He’s a player with a chip on his shoulder, but he is the type of guy any team should want to have.

Yes, on paper, it’s hard to believe this is the same player who averaged 28.9 points a game one season ago. He averaged 14.7 points, 4.5 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game this season with Cleveland. That is over the course of 15 games played, 14 of which he started.

But, consider this. After being traded to the Lakers, and before his recent season-ending injury, Thomas averaged 15.6 points, 5 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 17 games played. Even though it’s only a slight improvement, what’s impressive is the fact that Thomas only started one game with the Lakers and still put up those numbers.

Those number are also solid considering the Lakers are built to share the ball. With such a large group of young, talented scorers, such as Randle, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, IT is able to share the ball some more.

That’s not always the case, however. Thomas still acts like the ringleader when he’s on the floor. He holds onto the ball and has a shoot-first mentality. It shows too, considering he notched his highest turnover rate of his career with the Lakers at 3.2 per game.

Regardless, it is really up to Thomas what he wants to do. He’s finally in control of his own destiny after a wild season of trades and injuries. He knows the Lakers are focused on their young talent and signing a prolific wing in the offseason.

Multiple teams can use a guy like Thomas, it’s just a matter of how much he’s willing to give up, or work for to get what he wants.

Fortunately, Isaiah Thomas is on the side of hard work. If he takes a paycut to re-sign with the Lakers then he’s confident with the young squad. If not, he’ll get his money and join his sixth NBA team.

#NBA #Lakers #NBAOffseason2018