Isaiah Thomas is on the move again, this time heading to a team he wanted to play for since he was a kid. A team, in fact, that’s partly responsible for his name.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, who acquired Thomas last summer, are sending the 29-year-old point guard to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Thomas, 5-foot-9, grew up in Tacoma but was a Lakers fan growing up despite his proximity to the Seattle SuperSonics. His father, James Thomas, grew up in Los Angeles and, according to Sports Illustrated, bet a friend that if the Lakers lost the 1989 NBA Finals to Detroit he would name his son after Pistons star Isiah Thomas. LA star Magic Johnson injured his hamstring in Game 2 and the Lakers lost.
Cleveland.com reports the Cavaliers traded Thomas, Channing Frye and a first-round draft pick to the Lakers in exchange for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.
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Cleveland, the 2016 NBA champs, traded star guard Kyrie Irving to Phoenix for Thomas over the summer. Thomas missed 36 games while recovering from a hip injury.
Cleveland was not a good fit for Thomas, said Aaron Goodwin, Thomas’ agent.
“He's worked too hard to get back, and he's a ball dominant player,” Goodwin told cleveland.com. "It's LeBron's ball, and this clearly wasn't working. Koby (Altman) and I have had enough conversations where it was clear, with the way the system was going, it wasn't beneficial for either party. This is a good opportunity for Isaiah.”
In 2014, Thomas said he had strong interest in signing with Lakers when he was a free agent, Grantland reported at the time. The Lakers waited too long and Thomas signed with Phoenix.
Thomas played at Curtis High through his junior season before transferring to South Kent School in Connecticut. He returned home to play three seasons for the University of Washington. He averaged 16.4 points and 4.0 assists per game for the Huskies. He led UW to three NCAA Tournament appearances, including the 2010 Sweet Sixteen. The Huskies won a regular season Pacific-10 Conference title and two Pac-10 Tournament titles with Thomas. Thomas was the Pac-10 Tournament MVP in 2010 and ‘11.
Thomas was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the second round in 2011. He was an NBA All-Star in 2016 and ‘17.
The UW announced Thursday that it would delay a ceremony at which Thomas’ No. 2 will be retired. The ceremony was switched to Feb. 17, from Feb. 15, because the Lakers play on Feb. 15.