The Los Angeles Lakers worked out Isaiah Thomas this offseason and were close to bringing him on board before news of a Rajon Rondo buyout broke.
The Rondo news changed the Lakers’ plans, per The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski, who reported the news on Thomas.
“[The] Lakers were strongly considering signing Isaiah Thomas, and things appeared to be headed that way as September approaches. Rondo getting the buyout from Memphis clearly changed things in recent days,” Krawczynski tweeted.
Thomas had surgery on a troublesome hip in 2020 and claimed to be back to 100% following a couple of injury-riddled seasons. He played just three games last season as part of a 10-day deal with the Pelicans. He averaged 7.7 points and 1.7 assists in 16 minutes per game during his brief stint in New Orleans.
Thomas was a two-time All-Star during his prime in Boston, finishing fifth in MVP voting during the 2016–17 season. Thomas has been staying sharp with some appearances on the summer circuit, including an 81-point outing in the Crawsover Pro-Am in Seattle.
In his last full season, Thomas averaged 12.2 points, 3.7 assists and 1.7 rebounds while shooting 41.3% from long range in 40 appearances with the Wizards.
Lakers Wanted Closer Look at Thomas
The Lakers were interested enough in Thomas to bring him in for a workout. By his account, things went “very well.”
“I’ve worked out with some teams, they’ve went really well,” Thomas told Malika Andrews of ESPN. “Teams have seen me move, they’ve just seen me be who I am, and that’s what the biggest thing for me is, to get it out there so people can see that I’m healthy. For people to see that I have no restraints, I have no restrictions. I’m 100% ready to go, but I’ve been working out with guys, I’ve been ready. I’m just waiting on the opportunity, I’m waiting on the right opportunity for me to showcase my skills and be able to have an opportunity to play at the highest level and show that I can still compete at a very high level.”
The Lakers recently decided not to bring back veteran Jared Dudley, who was told the Lakers wanted to get younger with their remaining roster spots.
“I talked to Rob and Kurt, I thanked them, but I told them, you’re valuing youth more than a locker room presence guy,” Dudley told The Los Angeles Times. “I said, ‘I respect you for doing that, but I think you’re wrong,’”
Thomas, 32, and Rondo, 35, would not exactly fit that description.
Lakers ‘Frontrunners’ to Sign Rajon Rondo
Rondo won a championship with the Lakers in 2020 but opted to sign with the Atlanta Hawks in free agency. That fit didn’t work out well and he ended up being traded to the Clippers. He averaged 17.1 minutes per game last season, putting up 5.4 points and 4.4 assists.
Rondo agreed to a buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday and the Lakers are just waiting for him to clear waivers to sign him on Monday, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Lakers made no secret that Rondo’s leadership and basketball IQ were missed last season.
“Obviously he was so vital to our championship run last year. He really orchestrated the game on both sides of the ball, his ability to switch from man to zone (defense), and we like to joke that sometimes he had our guys in ‘mone’ defense where a couple guys were in man, a couple guys were in zone, and nobody really knew what we were putting in, but the offense didn’t either, so it worked for us,” Vogel told reporters in February. “We really miss him around here. He was a big part of what we did last year, a big part of our culture and he’s definitely missed.”
We’ll see what the Lakers ultimately decide, but it sounds like Rondo is destined to wear purple and gold once again.