The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly “weighed” the idea of signing free agent point guard Isaiah Thomas.

Per Marc Stein, via Substack:

The Los Angeles Lakers still have a few roster spots open and have weighed using one of them to sign former All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, league sources say.

The addition of Thomas is far from assured, sources stressed, but the Lakers are looking for additional backcourt punch as well as wing depth as they decide how to supplement the 12 veteran players they have under contract.

… Sources say that the Lakers do not regard Thomas’ bumpy stint alongside James in Cleveland during the first half of the 2017-18 season as a deterrent. The larger question is whether Thomas is the best candidate for an end-of-the-roster role.

Since averaging 28.9 points per game for the Boston Celtics in 2016-17, Thomas has managed to play a total of 87 games for five different franchises. One of those was the Lakers, for whom Thomas averaged 15.6 PPG across 17 outings in 2017-18.

In 2020-21, Thomas appeared in three games with the New Orleans Pelicans on a 10-day contract. He scored 21 points on 8-of-25 shooting over two contests (both blowout losses), then saw four minutes of action on April 12. New Orleans did not sign him to a second contract.

It’s always possible Thomas’ camp is the sourcing behind Stein’s reportage as the two-time All-Star attempts to catch on with an NBA roster towards the end of the offseason. On Wednesday, the veteran sent out a few impassioned tweets about his comeback bid and received encouragement from LeBron James.

The Lakers currently have three open roster spots. One of them is expected to go to Jared Dudley, while Wesley Matthews is a candidate to return. Los Angeles entered last season with two open spots, which they later filled with Andre Drummond and Ben McLemore.

Seeing Thomas thrive in purple-and-gold would undoubtedly be one of the more feel-good stories in sports, he’s not the ideal person for the Lakers to bring aboard at this point in time. Here are five reasons why.

1) Injury history

Thomas has been plagued by hip issues since the 2017 playoffs — hindering his short stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers following the Kyrie Irving trade. In March of 2018, after he’d been traded to Los Angeles, he underwent arthroscopic surgery. He had another procedure on his right hip in 2020. (Thomas also underwent surgery on his thumb in Sept. 2019.)

Thomas was not a health risk prior to the hip woes, but two major hip surgeries aren’t easy to bounce back from, especially for a diminutive player who relies on agility and quick movements to find space. Coming off an injury-riddled 2020-21 campaign, the Lakers would be better off targeting a less fragile free agent.

2) The state of his game

It’d be one thing if Thomas had shown glimpses of his All-Star self during his post-hip surgery stops. Unfortunately — and understandably — the 5’9 guard has shot just 38.4% shooting and averaged 12.6 points on 11.2 attempts per game since 2017-18. He simply hasn’t been the same player — or anywhere near it.

Through 2016-17, Thomas had posted a 3.3 Box Plus-Minus for his career. His BPM is -5.0 since.

Live and breathe the NBA?

🚨 Get viral NBA graphics, memes, rumors and trending news delivered right to your inbox with the Clutch Newsletter.

He played 40 games for the Washington Wizards in 2019-20, starting 37, and put up 12.2 points on 10.7 (!) attempts per game. He shot 40.8% from the field and 41.3% from downtown. He produced his lowest steal rate and defensive Win Shares of his career.

Last weekend, IT made waves by going full-Kobe Bryant, dropping 81 points in Jamal Crawford’s CrawSover League. That’s impressive, but a long way from NBA basketball.

3) He doesn’t fill a need

Arguably, the Lakers could use another point guard somewhere on their bench. Behind Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn is slated to be the backup point, though, by his own admission, he’s more of a score-first combo guard. Of course, if Frank Vogel staggers minutes correctly, either LeBron or Westbrook will always be on the court to orchestrate.

If the Lakers add another 1, it would make more sense to tap somebody who is more focused on creating shots for others and, more importantly, defense. On paper, the Lakers traded perimeter defense for shooting this summer by replacing Alex Caruso and Dennis Schroder with Nunn, Malik Monk, and Wayne Ellington.

Thomas has posted a negative Defensive BPM every year he’s been in the league.

4) He’s not young

The Lakers are going to be one of, if not the, oldest team in NBA history. They don’t need any more experience.

Because of how the last four years have played out, signing Thomas, who will turn 33 in February, would fall in the “taking a flyer” category of pick-up. Personally, I believe it makes more sense to use a flyer on a younger player with room to grow who can, at the very least, impact the game with size and/or raw athleticism. Many folks would probably disagree with this.

5) It didn’t work out so great with LeBron in Cleveland

LeBron and IT’s personal relationship seems to be all good, but their brief tenure together in the Cavs was a bust. Thomas — feeling the pressure as the return package for Kyrie — came back too early from his hip issues and struggled to find a groove.

James was against the trade in the first place and never truly bought into Thomas as a difference-maker in Cleveland. According to ESPN, LeBron wasn’t exactly heartbroken when Thomas was dealt with the Lakers midseason. During their time on the court together, the two play-makers failed to establish chemistry and the Cavs had a losing record in games when both suited up. Thomas’s defense was historically awful for a Cavs team that prided itself on that end of the floor.

A lot has changed since then, and the expectations on Thomas in Los Angeles in 2021-22 would be vastly different. Still, the new-look Lakers have enough question-marks, and questionable fits, already.

Best of luck to Isaiah Thomas in his comeback bid, whether it be with the Lakers or another franchise. We all know he’ll put in the work.