Thomas agent previously said he wouldn't come off the bench for the Lakers. 

By Daniel Rapaport
February 10, 2018

Isaiah Thomas does not want to come off the bench. 

He's made that clear throughout his career, and his agent, Aaron Goodwin, restated it in blunt terms after the point guard was traded from the Cavaliers to the Lakers in the deal that brought Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to Cleveland. 

"[Isaiah] IS NOT COMING OFF THE BENCH," Goodwin texted ESPN's Rachel Nichols shortly after the deal, leading Nichols to suggest that Thomas could ask for a buyout if he does not start. Despite that ominous message, Goodwin told USA Today's Sam Amick that Thomas was 'ecstatic' about the opportunity to play up-tempo with a young team in Los Angeles. 

In his first game with the Lakers on Saturday, a 130-123 loss to the Mavericks, Thomas started on the bench even as Los Angeles' starting point guard Lonzo Ball missed his 12th straight game with a knee injury. 

Thomas had 22 points on 7-12 shooting—including 4-8 from three—in 32 minutes.

The Lakers started Josh Hart and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the backcourt, and the rest of the starting five included Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Brook Lopez. 

It doesn't appear that Thomas will remain a bench warmer for long, though, According to ESPN's Chris Haynes, the Lakers' plan is to phase Thomas into the starting lineup alongside Ball sooner rather than later. Los Angeles' president of basketball operations, Magic Johnson, called Ball the Lakers' point guard after the trade, so if Thomas starts it will have to alongside Ball. 

"We need a point guard," Johnson said, per ESPN. "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."

Thomas, 29, averaged 14.7 points and 4.5 assists but shot just 36% from the field in 15 games with the Cavaliers. He is just one year removed from finishing fifth in MVP voting after averaging 28.9 points and 5.9 assists on 46% shooting and leading the Celtics to the best regular season record in the Eastern Conference. 

Thomas is set to become a free agent after the season. 

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