Isaiah Thomas opened up about his upcoming foray into restricted free agency in an interesting interview with Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. It starts off with pretty standard stuff, Isaiah talking about how he's not sure what to expect, and that he's been happy in Sacramento, but then things take an ominous turn.
"It would mean a lot," Thomas said of receiving an offer sheet from the Lakers.
I'll wait a moment as you collect yourselves.
This is a worst-case scenario for a lot of Kings fans. Many would be devastated to lose Isaiah, but to lose him to our most despised rival would be an extra level of pain. But it's good that it's been brought up. The Lakers are an obvious destination. They've got a lot of cap space, very few players under contract, and won't be happy making zero progress. Isaiah is the type of target who L.A. could reasonably expect to land.
Of course, there's no telling what the Lakers might value Thomas at, and the Kings will still have the option to match any offer. And one of the few players the Lakers do have under contract is Steve Nash, a Hall of Famer that Isaiah may not immediately start over, even though Nash is a shadow of his former self.
If Isaiah ends up with the Lakers, we won't be able to blame Isaiah or the Lakers. It will entirely fall on the Kings organization. But the Lakers wouldn't be a good reason to overpay Isaiah. If a rival wants to overpay a player, you let them, no matter how much it might hurt to see that player in another uniform.
Personally, the more telling passage of the interview was a little more subtle. It's the first time I can recall any sort of dig at the Kings organization, subtle or otherwise, coming from Isaiah.
"I just want to be wanted. I want to be wanted for being 5'9 and I want to be wanted for being a scoring point guard. That's all that I can say. If that's the Lakers, I'd be happy. If that's the Kings, then I'd be happy. I just want to be wanted and I want to win."
The Kings have attempted to replace Isaiah Thomas at every step along the way. He was an afterthought with the 60th pick, but outplayed 10th overall pick Jimmer Fredette. He outlasted Aaron Brooks, and Greivis Vasquez. Of course, only the Vasquez acquisition was under the current regime, but that feeling of overcoming replacements is all Isaiah has known as a King.
But there was a quote I really loved in the article. Discussing his relationship with Michael Malone, Isaiah was glowing.
"Since day one, he kept it 100 percent real with me. In the exit meeting, he said, ‘Man, you turned me into the biggest Isaiah Thomas fan.' He was the first guy that really let me be me and embraced me for being me."
The Lakers are a threat to steal away Isaiah Thomas, this is true. But the Kings still control their future as it relates to the Pizza Guy. Isaiah is going to do what's best for him, and the Kings are going to make the decision that's best for the franchise. Neither side should be faulted. It's just the ugly nature of the business.