Isaiah Thomas to come off bench vs. Mavericks in Lakers debut
Lakers coach Luke Walton confirmed Saturday afternoon to reporters that he did not plan to make any changes to his starting lineup. Walton and Thomas had dinner together in Dallas on Friday and discussed expectations and roles, sources told ESPN.
The plan is for Thomas to eventually work himself into position to join the starting five, according to sources.
A 2017 All-NBA second team performer who continues to work himself back into form after a hip injury, Thomas also didn't start his first game with the Cleveland Cavaliers when they hosted the Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 2.
"This is about Isaiah and what he can do to help this young team continue to grow and to win," Thomas' agent, Aaron Goodwin, told ESPN on Saturday morning. "He's met with Luke and [assistant coach] Brian Shaw and he understands the direction of the team, and wants to come in and contribute the right way. Everything else will work itself out."
The Lakers' franchise rookie point guard Lonzo Ball could return from an MCL sprain after the All-Star break. Cleveland traded Thomas, Channing Frye and a 2018 first-round pick for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. on Thursday.
Thomas, 29, will be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season. It sounds as if the Lakers will grant Thomas every opportunity to be productive.
"We need a point guard," said Magic Johnson, the Lakers' president of basketball operations. "So especially with that type of experience and the fact that he can score the basketball and pass it, we want to get [Thomas] in here fast. We told him that.
"He's day-to-day, [Ball] is. We don't know when he's coming back. We need somebody to come in there and lead our troops. [ Brandon Ingram has] been doing a fabulous job but we've gotta get another guy in here. That's why IT was important for us to make this move. And also, a veteran that can also help Lonzo. 'This is what you need to look for in when you're playing against this guy. This is what I've been doing in terms of my regimen of when I work out.' All those things — we didn't have anybody to teach Lonzo anything. Hopefully IT can come in and do that."
In 15 games this season, Thomas is averaging 14.7 points and 4.5 assists. Last season for the Boston Celtics, he averaged 28.9 points per game while shooting 46 percent from the field.
ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.