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Lakers point guard Isaiah Thomas: ‘I’m not no sixth man’

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas has been utterly frustrated with his role with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he’s managed to stay resilient through a rollercoaster of a season.

Thomas had to make a tremendous transition since having his best NBA season with the Boston Celtics in 2016-17. Following a hip surgery that ended his postseason, Thomas was trade for Kyrie Irving with the promise of being the Cleveland Cavaliers’ starting point guard upon his integration to his new team.

The experiment did not work, as the Cavs shipped Thomas away after 15 games with the team, sending him to the Lakers, who already had a point guard of the future in place in rookie Lonzo Ball.

Thomas has taken the bench since coming into his third jersey in eight months, for the exception of his first start on Wednesday night after an injury to Brandon Ingram.

“I’m not no sixth man,” Thomas declared in an interview with Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports this week. “And I won’t be a sixth man (in the future). I just want everybody to know that, like clear as can be.”
“I’m a two-time All-Star and a starter who has done things that a lot of people in this league haven’t done (when) given that opportunity.”

For anyone doubting the chip on his shoulder, there it is — as exposed as can be.

The 5-foot-9 dynamo had a torrid season with the Celtics in 2016-17, averaging 28.9 points and 5.9 assists per game, though his numbers with the Cavs and Lakers have done little to reflect that after a daunting hip surgery, shooting under 40 percent with both teams.

“But I got traded into a situation I can’t control,” Thomas explained after a fiery statement. “There’s nothing bad against (Lakers coach) Luke Walton. There’s nothing bad against the Los Angeles Lakers. I’m taking advantage of the opportunity they’ve given me, and then (we’ll) end the season off strong. And that’s all I can do.”

“I’m not coming in here saying, ‘Oh, I want this, or this is going to happen.’ No, that’s not me. I’m just going to come in here and be a professional, and when my name is called I’m going to be more than ready for any opportunity I’m given.”

Thomas is fresh off a 20-point, seven-assist night, his first as a starter for the Lakers upon playing a season-high 37 minutes.

There are several questions regarding his value, as he’s set to become a free agent at the end of the season, including an unnerving hip surgery that has often brought consequences to players over the years.