Los Angeles Lakers: 3 former LeBron James teammates to avoid in free agency

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(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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1. Isaiah Thomas

Two summers ago, when Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving requested a trade and the Cavs sent him to the Boston Celtics for reigning All-NBA point guard Isaiah Thomas, it was widely viewed as a win-win deal.

Irving got the No. 1 status and leadership responsibilities he wanted for a major-market franchise, while the Cavs weren’t expected to miss a beat with Thomas, who had just finished third in the league in scoring (28.9 points per game) and fifth in MVP voting.

Today, it looks like both teams lost the trade.

Irving is rumored to be done with the Celtics and has one foot out the door in free agency. In the two years they had him, Boston got one postseason run out of Irving, which ended with a whimper in the second round.

Thomas, meanwhile, arrived in Cleveland with a damaged hip that kept him sidelined for about half of the 2017-18 season. When he was finally able to play, his defensive deficiencies overshadowed his offensive contributions, and he was traded after just 15 games.

IT spent this past season with the Denver Nuggets, but he only appeared in 12 regular season games and never saw a minute in the playoffs.

The fall from MVP candidate to irrelevant benchwarmer has been swift for Thomas and confusing for everyone. He is just 30 years old, however, and going into this summer he says he’s healthy and ready to shine again.

The Lakers were the team with which Thomas last looked like himself — he averaged 15.6 points and 5.0 assists a night coming off the bench in 17 games for L.A. after being traded by Cleveland — but they should steer clear of him this time around.

This team needs to improve its perimeter defense, and Thomas is not going to help in that area. LeBron is getting older and his defensive effort slipped significantly last season. The Lakers also traded away two good perimeter defenders in Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart in order to get Davis.

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Thomas is a scorer and playmaker, and he’s had big playoff games in the past. His limitations and his sketchy history with LeBron, however, seem like a bigger risk (and potential distraction) than it’s worth to take a chance on someone who used to be great.