The trade deadline is over and the Lakers have some new players to integrate. This process begins tonight when LA travels to Dallas for a matchup with the Mavericks. Both Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye will be available to play tonight, and how Thomas fits in will be of particular interest to everyone.
For now, at least, he will come off the bench. And while that was originally a point of contention as Thomas would prefer to start, he’s at least staying positive publicly:
Thomas told Walton he wants to help the team win. Sure, he wants to start, but he’s mostly focused on winning. “They’ve been playing well. I don’t want to mess anything up …When my name is called, I’m going to take advantage of my opportunity. My job is to help where I can.”
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 10, 2018
If nothing else, Thomas knows his reputation has been sullied over the past 9 months. He’s been traded twice and his straightforward (and often critical) comments to media while in Cleveland has done him no favors. That kind of stuff is never great, but it can be tolerated or swept under the rug when you play well and/or when the team wins. Neither was true with the Cavs and now Thomas is a Laker.
In any event, just as his on the court game and improvement will be scrutinized closely so will his off the court comments and actions. Heading into free agency this summer, Thomas needs to do his best to be good on both fronts. Time will tell how successful he is but this is his shot and he needs to make the most of it.
Beyond Thomas, I’m interested in seeing how the Lakers as a whole play now that the dust has settled on all the trades. The OKC game featured the Thunder sitting Westbrook and Melo while the Lakers were shorthanded and just coming off the deadline earlier that day. Emotions were surely swirling, but in a way there was little time to adjust to anything and it was simply a matter of going out and playing. The game, in many ways, was a nice distraction from the day’s events.
Tonight, though, things are surely starting to normalize and the new reality should be setting in. The new guys will be in uniform and both should see some minutes. Adjustments from everyone will be needed and how that impacts effort, focus, chemistry, and continuity will be worth watching. More than X’s and O’s or rotations or matchups, these are things to watch closely as the came advances.
Beyond that, enjoy this game ya’ll. Let’s see if the Lakers can keep their momentum going.
Where you can watch: 5:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.