The Los Angeles Lakers will host Isaiah Thomas and the Denver Nuggets on Oct. 25, and Brook Lopez and the Milwaukee Bucks on March 1, 2019, which will mark their first games back at Staples Center since leaving the team in free agency.
In their lone seasons with the organization, Thomas (15.6 points and 5.0 assists in 17 games) and Lopez (13.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 74 games) were key contributors in helping the Lakers win more than 30 games for the first time since the 2012-13 NBA season.
Most importantly, they were part of the two major trades president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka made, which enabled them to have two-max contract slots in free agency.
In the first trade, the Lakers sent D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Lopez and the No. 27 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Kyle Kuzma).
And in the second trade, the Lakers dealt Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Thomas, Channing Frye, and the No. 25 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft (Moritz Wagner).
Although it was difficult to part with three members of the young core for expiring contracts, the Lakers eventually signed LeBron James to a four-year, $153 million contract. While the second max-contract slot was ideally for Paul George, he re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
As the Lakers could have re-signed Thomas and Lopez, they ultimately went in a different direction by adding Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee instead.
With Rondo expected to be Lonzo Ball’s mentor and McGee expected to change the ‘geometry of the game,’ they will look to help the Lakers become championship contenders.