LOS ANGELES--In their first conversation with Isaiah Thomas, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka heard excitement on the other end of the phone.
"We can't wait to get him here," said Pelinka, the Lakers' general manager. "He's so excited. Magic, you can tell them. You talked to him."
Said Johnson, president of basketball operations: "We talked to him, he's so excited. Said his father was born and raised in Inglewood, so he's really excited."
The 5-foot-9 point guard, who averaged 28.9 points last season, was the Cleveland Cavaliers' main acquisition in the trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in August, but his time in Cleveland was rocky, especially as he worked to return from hip injuries.
Now he's getting a fresh start, albeit with a team much further back in its development.
"He is happy for the opportunity to come and play for the Lakers," Aaron Goodwin, Thomas' agent, said in a text message. "He was excited after his conversation with Earv and Rob on how they view him and that they wanted him."
Thomas didn't ask for the trade. In fact, on Wednesday he told reporters in Cleveland that he didn't want to be traded, he just wanted to be somewhere he was wanted.
But the Cavaliers traded nearly half their roster Thursday, blowing up a locker room that had become tense in recent weeks. Thomas and Channing Frye were sent to Los Angeles along with a first-round pick for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.
Shortly after the trade, Goodwin sent a text message to Rachel Nichols of the ESPN show "The Jump," saying, "HE'S NOT COMING OFF THE BENCH."
For now, the Lakers won't have to address that issue.