It was a long time coming but Isaiah Thomas finally made his 2021-2022 NBA season debut on Friday for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Minnesota Timberwolves. It wasn’t a perfect debut as the team lost 110-92 but Thomas played well and scored a team-high 19 points. He’s only on a 10-day contract but could earn a longer deal if he continues to show that kind of scoring ability.
LeBron James was a teammate of Thomas’ back in the 2017-2018 season but that partnership didn’t last long as he was traded after 15 games. The two are now reunited in Los Angeles and LeBron is glad the former All-Star is back in the NBA.
“Happy to see [IT] back in the league,” LeBron said after Friday’s loss.
LeBron also discussed how they tried to integrate Thomas into the lineup.
“We just tried to implement a couple of things early on and shoot around,” LeBron said. “I know what he’s capable of doing, I know how he affects the game and what he’s good at. A lot of uphill DHO’s to him when he’s coming to his left hand. He can shoot the ball extremely well, he gets to the paint, he shoots free throws extremely well.
“When you have a veteran ball club, you can add a veteran and he’s able to mesh pretty quickly because we kind of know what he’s been able to do in this league, we know what you can do with him.”
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Thomas Talks Best Moment of Debut
Thomas didn’t have long from when he signed with the Lakers to when he made his debut. The team needed help immediately and he provided it. Thomas has had trouble staying on a roster but remains a fan favorite among NBA fans. He got a standing ovation when he entered the game in Minnesota. He was struck by the reaction he received from fans on the road.
“The dopest moment for me? When I checked in the game and they really cheered for me,” Thomas said, via ESPN. “And this is an away game. Those moments mean more to me than anything, just because people respect what I do and people respect the grind that I’m on. And I think me being 5-9 helps. Like, I’m the normal person’s height, so people cheer for me just because of that.”
Thomas’ time with the Lakers could be short but he’s making the most of it. Not many players coming in on 10-day contracts get standing ovations during their debuts. He should get an even bigger reaction if he has a chance to play in Los Angeles.
Frank Vogel Addresses COVID-19 Issues
The reason for the Lakers bringing in Thomas was due to the fact that they’ve been dealing with multiple COVID-19 issues. Avery Bradley, Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk and Austin Reaves all missed Friday’s game due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. The team was already missing Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn with injuries. Plus, Anthony Davis left the game early with an injury. Frank Vogel could only describe the situation as crazy.
“It’s craziness,” Vogel said. “I don’t know what the answer is, but it’s not like anything I’ve seen before or dealt with before as a coach, coming into games and guys just in and out of the lineups like this.”
The Lakers aren’t the only team getting decimated by COVID-19. They’ll have to hope it gets better before it gets worse.