Isaiah Thomas Is the Biggest Loser if Rajon Rondo Signs With Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers will reportedly be seeking a reunion with Rajon Rondo after the veteran point guard agreed to a buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies. That might spell doom for Isaiah Thomas in his hopes of making an NBA comeback.

Thomas has made the rounds this summer playing in various leagues, but he’s mostly keen on returning to the NBA. A return to the Association seemed feasible after Thomas worked out for the Lakers earlier this month, but his hopes of getting a contract could be dwindling with LA pursuing Rondo.

Isaiah Thomas worked out for the Lakers

Isaiah Thomas did not have a ton of success in his first stint with the Lakers, but he hoped to get another crack with the Purple and Gold.

Thomas worked out with James and Russell Westbrook earlier this month, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. The diminutive guard played a few games with the Atlanta Hawks this past season but was unable to stick with an NBA roster. News of Thomas’ workout marked the most significant development in his comeback hopes.

The move also seemed prudent on LA’s part. Thomas is the kind of guy who would give the Lakers scoring off the bench. He can create off the dribble and might take some of the pressure off James and Westbrook to constantly be on the ball.

Then again, the Lakers might be better served adding more of a traditional distributor and playmaker off the bench in their efforts to sign a third point guard. That’s where Rajon Rondo comes in.

LA is expected to sign Rajon Rondo after he agreed to a buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies

The Lakers worked out veterans Mike James and Darren Collison in addition to Isaiah Thomas. They were clearly purveying their options but now seem locked in a guy who helped the Purple and Gold win a title in 2020.

Shams Charania of The Athletic was among those to report the Lakers are the favorites to sign Rajon Rondo after the four-time All-Star agreed to a buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Clippers traded Rondo to the Grizzlies as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade, but he was always likely to seek a buyout. Now, he could be headed back to LA once again.

Rondo played a pivotal role in the Lakers’ run to the title during the 2019-20 season. He emerged as the team’s top point guard option in the playoffs, averaging 8.9 points, 6.6 assists, and 4.3 rebounds in 16 games. Rondo was especially key in the NBA Finals as a guy who could play on the ball and get to the basket.

Rondo will likely relish the chance to run it back with the Lakers if LA signs him after he clears waivers. However, the news probably didn’t come as a nice surprise for Thomas. Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reported LA was “strongly considering” signing Thomas until Rondo’s buyout was finalized.

Will Isaiah Thomas get an NBA contract before the season starts?

Isaiah Thomas and Rajon Rondo scuffle during a Lakers-Pelicans game in 2018
Isaiah Thomas likely isn’t thrilled that the Lakers hope to re-sign Rajon Rondo | Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Kevin Garnett Once Refused to Help a Choking Rajon Rondo to Teach Him a Lesson About Being a Team Player: ‘Die, Die’

Isaiah Thomas’ workout with the Lakers might have been his best chance at returning to the NBA. Just like that, the opportunity seems to have been snatched away from him.

It remains to be seen whether Thomas will be able to find his way back to the league. The reality is that most teams are pretty well set in terms of roster construction. There are only so many spots still available.

Thomas is still only 32 years old. He can score the ball, as evidenced by his 81-point outburst in the Crawsover Pro-Am as well as his exploits at the Drew League. However, it doesn’t seem as though NBA executives are overly enticed at the idea of adding him to their rosters.

The Lakers could get some added ball-handling and playmaking if they sign Rondo. But it would come at the expense of Thomas, whose NBA dreams are crashing down around him.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.