Los Angeles Lakers point guard Isaiah Thomas will be out indefinitely due to hip surgery, which is not ideal timing before his free agency in July.
Thomas, 29, could reportedly return to the Lakers on a short deal if they do not sign coveted stars like LeBron James and/or Paul George (via ESPN):
“Despite a looming surgical procedure on his right hip, the Los Angeles Lakers continue to hold an interest in exploring a free-agent deal with guard Isaiah Thomas this summer … If the Lakers are unsuccessful in those recruitments, it would significantly increase the front office’s interest in exploring one-year deals for the 2018-19 season to preserve future salary-cap space.”
Adrian Wojnarowski reported that head coach Luke Walton believed Thomas had a “positive impact” on the young players in Los Angeles.
If the team is unable to recruit James or George to the Lakers, it’s certainly possible they sign Thomas as a cap filler like they did during the most recent offseason with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope until the 2019 free agency period begins.
Earlier this year, we speculated that Thomas could sign for the mid-level exception this offseason. He has since indicated that he wants to stay with the franchise and also did not seem to mind coming off the bench for the team behind rookie Lonzo Ball.
While it’s unclear if Los Angeles would be the team to offer him a short deal for good money, as mentioned above, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him sign a one-year contract before the market resets.
More teams will have cap space in 2019 and if he recovers well from his surgery, he could still receive a larger contract after next season.