When Isaiah Thomas was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, there were immediate questions as to what his role would be. Especially when his agent immediately said Thomas would not come off the bench.
Head coach Luke Walton had other ideas however, placing Thomas in a sixth man role after a conversation over dinner. To his credit, Thomas has accepted the role and been pretty effective in it, becoming one of the Lakers’ most reliable clutch scorers while also showing off his playmaking abilities.
Thomas’ future remains in question as he is a free agent after this season and it is unclear whether he will be re-signed by the Lakers. One thing that is for sure is that Thomas still believes he is a starter in this league, which he explained to Sam Amick of USA Today:
“I’m not no sixth man,” he declared in an interview with USA TODAY Sports this week. “And I won’t be a sixth man (in the future). I just want everybody to know that, like clear as can be. I’m a two-time All-Star and a starter who has done things that a lot of people in this league haven’t done (when) given that opportunity.
Despite his obvious desire to be a starter, Thomas maintains that he won’t cause problems and will do anything to help the Lakers down the stretch:
“I told Luke when we sat down and talked (that), ‘Yeah, obviously I want to be a starter, (and) obviously I feel like I deserve and earned the right to be a starter on any team in the NBA,” Thomas said. “But I’m not going to cause problems just because you say, ‘Well right now I’m not starting.’ It is what it is. I can’t control it. They already had a team before I came here, so I’m just here to help and finish the season off strong and try to get to the next level. That’s, if anything, try to get to the playoffs if we can.”
Thomas has been solid for the Lakers, averaging 16.7 points and 5.5 assists in 14 games so far. He made his first start for the team on Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors, though that was mainly out of necessity thanks to the multiple injuries the Lakers were dealing with.
He may receive another Friday, as Brandon Ingram was already ruled out and Kyle Kuzma remains questionable due to a sprained ankle.
Whether starting or coming off the bench, Thomas has proven that he is getting healthier and can still be an impact player in this league. Only time will tell if he will ultimately get his wish in the future, and whether or not that will be with the Lakers.
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