Isaiah Thomas on Scoring 22 in Lakers Debut: 'I Feel Like I Got My Powers Back'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2018

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 10: Isaiah Thomas #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts as the Lakers play the Dallas Mavericks in the second half at American Airlines Center on February 10, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. The Mavericks won 130-123. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Isaiah Thomas made his debut with the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night, scoring 22 points and dishing out six assists in a 130-123 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

Afterward, he seemed pleased with his first game with his new team after being traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I wanted to bring something to the table," he told reporters. "I felt like I got my powers back playing on this team."

Thomas, 29, was a key part of a deal that also sent Channing Frye and Cleveland's protected first-round pick in 2018 for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. before Thursday's trade deadline.

"I was shocked," Thomas said of being traded to the Lakers, per ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk. "It was a surprise, but at the same time, I am happy to have a new start, I am happy to be here with the Lakers, happy to be with a young team that is exciting, that likes to get up and down. That's my style of play. I am here to help in any way possible. It's a fresh start for me. I am excited."

The Cavaliers completely reshaped their roster Thursday. Along with the Thomas deal, the team also landed George Hill and Rodney Hood in trades and shipped Dwyane Wade back to the Miami Heat, Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose to the Utah Jazz (Rose was later cut) and Iman Shumpert to the Sacramento Kings.

Thomas, meanwhile, finds himself in an interesting situation in Los Angeles as a backup to Lonzo Ball. However, Thomas said he was willing to play whatever role was asked of him.

"This is the best they have been playing," he said. "I don't want to mess anything up. And I told [Lakers head coach Luke Walton] that. Whatever he needs me to do, I am willing to do that. Yes, I would love to be a starter. I feel like I deserve that and earned that, but at the same time, it's a new chapter for me. I am here to help this team, help these young guys, continue to be professional, continue to work hard and continue to jell together."

Walton added: "He wants to start. Of course he does. Everybody wants to start. I expect him to really help our team out, and I expect him to be a positive influence on our team and help us win ballgames.

"... how many times have we changed our starting lineup this year? We are going to reward guys that are playing hard, playing the right way, that are going to help us, in our opinion, give us the best chance of winning ballgames. Now, we are still obviously developing young players at the same time, but we always take both of those into consideration."

Lakers team president Magic Johnson said he hopes Thomas mentors Ball in their short time together before adding that Ball was the team's starter at point guard, per Youngmisuk. Thomas is a free agent after the season, and L.A.'s trade for him was mostly about clearing Clarkson's salary off the books to help the Lakers make a run at players such as LeBron James and Paul George in free agency this summer.

Thomas, in other words, is a rental.

"Obviously, I am going to help him out," he said of Ball. "We are part of the same team, he's a special young player, and he is going to be an incredible talent in this league for years to come. My job is to help where I can. I am still in my prime. So it is not like I am taking a backseat to anybody. I am here to be who I am and here to make a difference on this team, and I am excited about the opportunity."


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