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Reports: Russell Westbrook in coronavirus protocols, Lakers signing Isaiah Thomas

Lakers guard Isaiah Thomas

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 22: Isaiah Thomas #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on March 22, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

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Isaiah Thomas didn’t want to sign in the NBA’s minor league. But desperate to return to the NBA, he joined the Nuggets’ affiliate. He had 42 points, eight assists and six rebounds in his first game.

Now, he’s getting a promotion – from the Lakers, who will be without Russell Westbrook.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Thomas is a sympathetic figure. The 5-foot-9 guard built himself up from last pick in the draft to star by playing with so much heart. Then, injury derailed his career just before a big payday.

It’s somewhat surprising the Lakers are signing Thomas, considering LeBron James didn’t appear to enjoy playing with Thomas on the Cavaliers. But that tense situation, which ended with Cleveland shipping Thomas to Los Angeles in 2018, was exacerbated by Thomas’ injury-related struggles. The Lakers showed interest in Thomas last offseason, presumably without LeBron objecting.

Thomas claims he’s much healthier. But he had said that before, and it didn’t show in a brief stint with the Pelicans last April. Thomas is now 32, an age many small guards fall off.

Expectations are far lower for Thomas now than when he replaced Kyrie Irving on the Cavs. Thomas figures to provide depth, but actually joining the rotation will depend on how coronavirus has spread within the Lakers. Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker (coronavirus) and Kendrick Nunn (knee) are out. Los Angeles also has Malik Monk, Avery Bradley, Wayne Ellington, Austin Reaves and Rajon Rondo at guard.