It was late on a Saturday night when Isaiah Thomas, fresh off his 22-point Lakers debut in Dallas earlier this month, landed in Los Angeles for the first time after being traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers. With three days between games, the next practice was not scheduled until Monday morning, giving the All-Star point guard and free agent-to-be a brief respite to process the latest career twist. Thomas’ phone lit up with a text from Lonzo Ball, the Lakers star rookie and the incumbent at point guard. The trade seemed to put the two playmakers at odds. Both were accustomed to big minutes. Each needs the ball in his hands to be effective. The Lakers were bombarded with questions about the fit. Would Thomas start over Ball? Could they play together? Would Thomas demand a buyout? The message on Thomas’ screen referenced none of that. Ball simply wanted to know if on days off his new teammate liked to get in the gym. “I told him there is no days off,” Thomas said. He would be at the Lakers’ practice facility the next morning at 11. Ball asked if he could join him. “That says a lot about the type of person and player he is,” Thomas said. “He wants to be great. He wants to get better. I’m all for helping him. I’ve been in the league seven years and I know a little bit about the NBA. But at the same time I’m pushing to be great as well.” Ball said he “was just trying to get a feel” for Thomas. Starting Friday against Dallas, the Lakers (23-34) will spend the final 25 games of their season navigating the tricky and potentially awkward pairing of their two point guards. One is an established star, the other an unproven rookie to whom the Lakers have tethered their future. Thomas and Ball have not yet shared the court in a game, with Ball missing the 15 games before the All-Star Break due to a sprained left MCL, but are so far saying the right things. “Opposites attract,” Ball said. “I like to pass, he likes to shoot. So I think we’re going to work well. And he can definitely help me on the offensive end, just the way he comes off screens. How he gets to his spots on the floor so he definitely helps me a lot.” At the end of each practice this season, Ball has wrapped up by shooting on one basket with fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma, engaging assistant coaches Miles Simon and Brian Shaw in shooting games before heading to the locker room.
Lakers’ Lonzo Ball on playing with Isaiah Thomas: ‘Opposites attract’
Orange County Register | Feb 23