IT could seek buy-out from Lakers, possible Boston return lining up
If you didn’t pay attention at all on Thursday to the on-goings of the trade deadline, NBA fans who did feel bad for you.
In what was arguably one of the busiest and, bar-none, craziest deadline days in years, there were plenty of trades to get people talking. A lot of teams moved pieces to revamp their current rosters, some decided to go in the opposite direction and sell off assets for draft stock and then there was the Cleveland Cavaliers, who went complete scorched-Earth and flipped their roster.
Alright maybe "flipped" isn't the best word since you still got that LeBron James guy there, but the team did a major re-haul by pretty much trading half of their roster, or literally half of their active players. Four out of the ten total players who dressed for the Cavs the night before found themselves on different rosters by days end and, sadly, a lot of them have started growing used to this.
Most notably, first-year Cavalier and former Boston Celtic, Isaiah Thomas, was sent to the Los Angeles Lakers, along with Channing Frye, for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr in return.
Going 7-8 in his 15 game tenure there, although IT struggled to acclimate with the rest of the Cavs, the idea of him being moved still seemed far-fetched despite all sorts of rumors out of Cleveland. Why would they want to move the third-best scorer in the league last year? Sure, he’s never been heralded as a defensive savant and wouldn’t cure their defensive struggles, but they’ll figure it out somehow, right?
Wrong. Rookie general manager, Koby Altman, was pretty fearless as he decided to forgo that thought process and instead part ways with who was once considered the biggest piece in the Kyrie Irving blockbuster in Thomas. That trade from this past summer, clearly won by Danny Ainge now, will forever go down as a turning point in Cleveland’s fortunes but also, Isaiah’s.
Going from being the heart and soul of a first-place team to now being considered a possible nuisance and question mark almost within half a year probably wasn't part of his plan but a lot of this can be put, in part, on nobody but himself.
Isaiah was the one clamoring for Brinks truck money which Ainge felt, and was proven right, he didn’t deserve. Another issue in Boston was the fact that the once-beloved “Little Guy” didn’t want to follow advice from team doctors and get surgery on his hip, a decision which may not have boded well for him as his play has taken a dip since his return.
These were some of the factors, along with the opportunity to get Irving, which ultimately led Danny to move IT and begin this downward spiral for him. Now on a young Lakers team in the middle of a rebuild, Thomas finds himself in a curious situation and one he may not be want to be in for long.
Based on what @Rachel__Nichols reported on The Jump, it sounds like Isaiah Thomas' camp will push for a buyout if the Lakers want to bring IT off of the bench. Considering developing Lonzo Ball is their main priority, that's a strong possibility.
Reports from multiple sources including the host of ESPN’s The Jump, Rachel McNichols, have noted that Isaiah might not be too happy in LA depending on the role he receives. Having worked hard to earn his reputation as a starter in this league, Thomas’ camp may push for a buy-out from the Lakers if the team decides to play him off the bench behind face of the franchise, Lonzo Ball. Nevermind trying to imagine IT playing for a team who’s leader is a rookie being hard as is, try and wrap your head around him playing behind that guy simultaneously.
However as we speak, it has been noted today that Thomas will be coming off the bench in his first appearance in purple and gold tonight while Ball still is nursing an injury. Contrary to the previous reports, it could be possible this is just a formality as Isaiah probably hasn’t even really practiced with the team yet as he just arrived in town yesterday.
While it’s probably unlikely the Lakers shipped out Clarkson and Nance Jr to only buy-out Thomas’ contract a little down the road, it’s still an intriguing narrative for Celtic fans to follow. Being bought out would open the door for a possible reunion between IT and the team which made him the player he is today as the Celtics are now legally allowed, by CBA rules, to resign him or bring him back if they so please. Although he has ran into his bout of issues after leaving town especially off the court, Brad Stevens always seemed to have an ability to keep the former University of Washington point guard in check during his time here. Obviously there’s a lot of “what-if’s” at play here and who’s to say Isaiah would even want to return to play for Danny Ainge and the team who shipped him out just last summer. Nonetheless it should be something to keep an eye on.
More likely than not, the Lakers will probably try to keep the former sixth-man and resign him to a one-year “prove it” deal but one of the things he’ll have to prove before they even do that is if he can fit into their future plans. Magic Johnson, with the help of Rob Pelinka, surprisingly has his team in a solid position to grow and signing Thomas on a cheap one-year deal would also lend them the opportunity to bring in more star talent to play around Ball, himself and other young Lakers like Brandon Ingram.
In a perfect world (for Celtics fans though), how awesome would it be if Los Angeles really did buy him out only for the Little Guy to return to his rightful home to lead us to banner 18?
Isaiah gets bought out. Comes back to Boston as sixth man. Reveals his injury was faked. Celtics win NBA Finals in 4 straight games. Danny Ainge is elected President.