The Cavaliers traded Isaiah Thomas to the Lakers on Thursday, thus ending his dramatic, mostly unsuccessful 15-game tenure in Cleveland.
Why did Thomas not work with the Cavs?
“Mostly because Isaiah Thomas is a ball-dominant point guard, and I don’t know that it’s feasible for him to play with a guy like LeBron the way Kyrie could,” NBA-TV and NBA.com’s Sekou Smith said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Kyrie, for as long as he could, stomached the idea of not having the ball in his hands, but you saw even that came to an end last summer. He had enough and wanted to start over somewhere fresh where he could be the point guard he thinks he is. He’s shown us in Boston that he’s a much more dynamic player than he showed while he was in Cleveland playing with LeBron.”
Thomas, meanwhile, went from averaging 28.9 points in Boston to averaging 14.7 in Cleveland.
“Isaiah, coming off that injury, was not the same player he was in Boston and wasn’t surrounded by the same supporting parts and guys that could really cover up his defensive deficiencies,” Smith said. “And he was just not the right personality to play alongside LeBron in that locker room. Kyrie held his tongue and never challenged LeBron or challenged the system publicly the way that Isaiah did. I think that’s what ended up costing Isaiah his footing in that locker room and his spot on that team.”
Still, Smith said that James was not the mastermind behind Thomas’ trade to the Lakers.
“No, this was work that was done certainly with LeBron in mind and with some consultation from LeBron, but people need to understand this is Dan Gilbert who’s giving the go-ahead on this stuff,” Smith said. “LeBron is not the one allowing the general manager to make you spend 50 million more dollars in luxury-tax penalties. No player in any sport is making that call. That’s a call only an owner can make. Only the guy that writes the check can get on the hook for an extra $50 million.”