NBA trade deadline day took a little bit to get going, but once the Cavs woke up and started dealing, things got crazy. The first blockbuster trade the Cavs made was shipping Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and their protected 2018 first round pick to the Lakers for Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson.
Thomas getting moved wasn’t entirely shocking considering the clear divide between he, the rest of the locker room and the coaching staff that had emerged since his return to the lineup in early January. Him being dealt to the Lakers, however, was a shocker — as was the Cavs tacking on the first round pick just to get Thomas out of the locker room.
With Lonzo Ball already there and L.A. clearly more worried about their youth movement and clearing cap space (both Frye and Thomas are expiring) than winning now, which means there’s a chance they’ll want Thomas to come off of the bench. There’s one major problem with that. Thomas won’t accept coming off of the bench, and if you thought he was disgruntled in Cleveland it could be worse in L.A. if he’s relegated to backup duty behind Ball and other young players.
On ESPN’s The Jump, Ramona Shelbourne reported the Lakers may want Thomas to join the reserves and Rachel Nichols read a text she got from Thomas’ agent that said, in all caps, “HE IS NOT COMING OFF THE BENCH.”
Following that, Shelbourne stood by what she said and Nichols said Thomas would rather take a buyout.
This will be fascinating to watch over the coming days as the Lakers integrate Thomas into their roster. Ball has been out due to injury for some time, but is expected to come back in the relatively near future. If Thomas and his agent push out of L.A., considering how poorly he fared in Cleveland, it would be quite interesting to see what teams would have interest in him on the buyout market.