Luke Walton: Isaiah Thomas to come off bench for Lakers

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Cleveland Cavaliers
Feb 7, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas (3) dribbles the ball in the third quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

As the Los Angeles Lakers get ready for their Saturday evening matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, the team is figuring out how to incorporate new additions Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye into the lineup.

Thomas’ agent was initially adamant that the point guard would not accept a role off the bench for the Lakers and there was speculation that the former Cavalier would ask for a buyout if he were not a starter. While that statement was mostly walked backed after the trade, it was still a glaring sentiment felt by IT’s camp.

However, it appears as though head coach Luke Walton has convinced him otherwise. At shootaround on Saturday, Walton informed reporters that Thomas would come off the bench for the Lakers even in the absence of rookie point guard Lonzo Ball due to injury:

For his part, Thomas sounds accepting of his new role despite publicly being on record that he did not want to be a sixth man.

This is the right move by Walton. The Lakers are playing the best basketball they have in years – they are 12-4 since January 7th – and Walton is right to let the lineup that has led them through a four-game winning streak stay together.

Thomas will effectively be given the Jordan Clarkson role where despite coming off the bench, he’ll play heavy minutes especially due to Ball’s injury status.

Thomas has struggled this season after hip surgery in the summer and it’s unclear how much he has left in the tank. But as he gains his form, he brings a whole new dynamic to the Lakers as someone who was an MVP candidate last season.

Both Thomas and Frye are expected to play on Saturday.

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