Isaiah Thomas's trade to the Lakers begged an obvious question—with Lonzo Ball firmly established as the Lakers' point guard of the present and future, would Thomas play with Ball or move to the bench?
Shortly after the deal, Thomas' agent Aaron Goodwin texted ESPN's Rachel Nichols that his client "IS NOT COMING OFF THE BENCH," leading Nichols to suggest Thomas could seek a buyout if Lakers coach Luke Walton sought to use him off the bench. Walton, for what it's worth, said he planned to play Thomas and Lonzo together.
Perhaps seeking to find out the team's plans for him, Thomas apparently had a conversation with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and president of basketball operations Magic Johnson. Thomas liked what he heard—Goodwin told USA Today's Sam Amick that his client is 'ecstatic' about the opportunity in L.A. From Amick's Q&A with Goodwin:
Q: Is it safe to assume, though, that he wouldn’t be coming to town if there wasn’t a certain level of comfort with the opportunity? You guys could have forced a buyout and looked at other options. A: Once he spoke to (Lakers president of basketball operations) Magic (Johnson) and (general manager) Rob (Pelinka), he was ecstatic about the opportunity. It’s clear that he’ll get a chance to play, and play up-tempo like he has played throughout his career. And that’s all we can ask for. That was our biggest concern.
Thomas, who averaged 14.7 points, 4.5 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 15 games with the Cavaliers but is just one year removed from finishing fifth in MVP voting, joins a Lakers team that's playing its best basketball of the season. Los Angeles has won four in a row and eight of its last ten to get to 23-31 but still sits 5.5 games behind the Pelicans for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.