When the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Isaiah Thomas from the Cleveland Cavaliers just prior to the NBA Trade Deadline in February, it was for the clear purpose of taking back an expiring contract while simultaneously shedding longterm salary for the upcoming free agency period.
Thomas, who finished third in MVP voting just one season ago with the Boston Celtics, didn’t live up to expectations with the Cavaliers and now found himself with his third organization in less than a year.
Part of Thomas’ struggles with the Cavaliers was attributed to a torn labrum suffered last March as a member of the Celtics. He not only opted against surgery at the time, but also played through the injury for two months to cope with the death of his sister, Chyna.
As a result, Thomas entered the 2017-18 season at a disadvantage. Despite missing the entire first half of the season rehabbing, injuries continued to plague him, and he never returned to MVP form while experiencing the worst statistical season of his career.
Thomas finally underwent surgery hip surgery last month, which not only ended his season, but the chance to sign a lucrative contract later this summer as well.
Despite the end result, Thomas doesn’t regret the path he chose, as it allowed him to clear his mind of tragedy and simply focus on basketball, per Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
“I was going through something way bigger than basketball, so basketball was the only thing that can really numb that at that point in time,” Thomas said. “I don’t regret it. It is what it is. I can’t control that. You can say yes, I wish there was a better decision made on both sides but at the same time it is what it is, I can only control so much. …
“That was the only thing, basketball was the only thing to keep my mind off of something so big.”
It isn’t clear what the future holds for Thomas, as he is set to hit the unrestricted free agent market in the wake of a disappointing season. The Lakers could conceivably bring him back on a short-term contract, but that’s likely contingent on whether the team is able to lure in bigger free agents such as Paul George and LeBron James.
Walton feels like Thomas has made a positive impact on the young core and could want him back in the fold if the opportunity presents itself.