Not only does he share a name with one of the greatest point guards of all-time, but he may well be one of the most underrated players in the NBA today. His name: Isaiah Thomas. Thomas has mostly gone unnoticed in tiny Sacramento, but the little point guard has transformed from the 60th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft into a true playmaker.
I’m sure most of you are all too familiar with one Kyrie Irving. You know, that guy who won the NBA All-Star Game MVP at the age of 21? Yea, that guy. The same guy that just recently signed a 5-year, $90M max-level extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Take a look at how his 2013-14 season compared with that of the aforementioned Isaiah Thomas.
Pretty similar, huh?
Before you begin blasting away on the twitter machine, hear me out. I’m not trying to make the case that Isaiah Thomas is a better player than Kyrie Irving. That would be ridiculous, especially when you consider their comparative ages and games. However, is there a $70M difference between the two of them? Absolutely not.
I’m also not going to try and argue that Kyrie Irving isn’t deserving of a $90M contract. He’s 21-years old and has shown flashes of brilliance on the court. Supposedly he’s a good teammate, a solid ambassador for the game, and can be the face of a franchise (pending LeBron’s decision). While there are questions about his shooting, his aptitude for the point guard position, and his decision making on the court, he is still worth a max contract at this point.
But here’s what I’m arguing: Isaiah Thomas had a comparable season to Kyrie Irving last year and is severely undervalued right now. In my opinion the Lakers, who are in desperate need of a PG, would be crazy not to capitalize on the soft market for his services.
Thomas, according to reports, has two deals on the table. The first is from the Sacramento Kings and it’s a 4-year, $22M deal. Thomas is a restricted free agent (RFA), meaning that the Kings would have three days to match any offer sheet that Thomas signs. As of right now the only other deal Thomas has on the table is from the Detroit Pistons and it’s rumored to be a 3-year, $24M deal. Thomas, for what it’s worth, isn’t interested in playing for the Pistons.
You know who Thomas is interested in playing for? Yep, the Los Angeles Lakers.
For the record, Isaiah Thomas told me yesterday that his top three choices are the Lakers, Suns and Dallas. Very interesting trio.
— Brett Weisband (@weisband) July 10, 2014
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the dean of Twitter, Thomas met with the Phoenix Suns on Thursday and the Suns are interested in using him in a backcourt along with Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and rookie Tyler Ennis.
Restricted free agent guard Isaiah Thomas visiting Suns today, sources tell Yahoo. Suns looking to build on deep backcourt. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 10, 2014
Is the market for point guards so soft that Thomas is fine with accepting a deal as a backup for the Suns? One would have to believe that Thomas would be more interested in holding out for an offer from the Lakers rather than accepting a deal in Phoenix to play behind Bledsoe and Dragic. Of course, Phoenix could be banking on the very real possibility that Bledsoe himself may be on the way to Los Angeles.
There is no denying the fact that the Lakers are very interested in Eric Bledsoe and would like to extend him an offer sheet to take back to Phoenix. However, the Lakers are still waiting on Carmelo Anthony to make a final decision before making any other deals. Basically, it’s the waiting game for the Lakers until Anthony tells them his plans. Bledsoe would be a fantastic fit on the Lakers, especially if Byron Scott ends up as the head coach. However, the Lakers would likely have to overextend themselves and offer Bledsoe a contract for longer than three years.
The ideal scenario for the Lakers right now is to build a competitive team on short term contracts that will expire after the 2015-16 season, when Kobe Bryant‘s contract expires and Kevin Durant becomes a free agent. The Lakers are weighing whether or not to pursue Bledsoe for a contract similar to what Chandler Parsons recently agreed to with the Dallas Mavericks. Parsons agreed to an offer sheet with Dallas that is for 3-years and worth $45M. According to reports, the third year is a player option. Would Bledsoe consider taking a similar deal with the Lakers instead of a 4-year deal, which another team will almost assuredly offer him? I find that hard to believe, especially with his history of injuries.
If the Lakers decide against pursuing Bledsoe, they will turn and find Isaiah Thomas patiently waiting for them to extend him an offer. Thomas has said that he wants to play for the Lakers and that it would mean a lot to simply be extended an offer from the Lakers.
Thomas is a born Lakers fan, even though he grew up in Seattle. He was named Isaiah because his dad lost a bet when the Pistons beat the Lakers in the 1989 finals. His favorite player growing up: Kobe Bryant. For Lakers fans, it’s always special to bring on a player who wants to don the purple and gold. The Lakers are desperate for a point guard. The market is soft. If there was ever a time to snatch up a competent point guard with true growth potential without breaking the bank it’s right now.
The Lakers clearly have a Plan B if Carmelo Anthony decides to return to the New York Knicks. We’ve talked about the how the Lakers contingency plan involves Thomas, Lance Stephenson, and Trevor Ariza, along with retaining Pau Gasol and Nick Young.
What I’m saying is this: Isaiah Thomas doesn’t need to be in Plan B. The Lakers need to pursue Thomas and they need to do it right now. Offer him the chance to play with Carmelo Anthony. If Anthony says no, then convince others that Thomas is a playmaker and is someone you want to play with.
The Lakers should make Thomas a strong, short term offer that the Kings simply can’t match. Offer him 2-years, $21M. While Thomas may not be the exact same caliber of player as a Kyrie Irving, he’s going to get you numbers similar to some of the top point guards in the league and he’ll do it for 65 cents on the dollar.
Isaiah Thomas is undervalued. If you’re the Lakers you must take advantage of the market.