Thomas was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 8 after playing only 15 games for Cleveland.
“I didn’t think they would pull the trigger that fast, 15 games,” Thomas told ESPN’s E:60 in an interview that will air March 11. “But again, it’s a business. And the Cavs were, I mean, they were in panic mode. We were losing — a lot. And I think they felt like they needed to make a move, and they, they basically cleared house.”
Thomas, after two and a half seasons with the Boston Celtics, was traded to the Cavaliers on Aug. 22. He was coming back from a hip injury he suffered in the 2017 postseason that had kept him off the court for seven months.
In the 15 games he played for the Cavaliers, the team went 7-8. Thomas, who averaged nearly 29 points per game in his final season in Boston, was averaging 14.7 points per game in Cleveland. The Cavs were 31-22 when they traded Thomas and forward Channing Frye to the Lakers for guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Larry Nance Jr.
“It was a tough situation I was being put in,” Thomas said. “It was — it was different. … It’s hard to get acclimated to a team halfway through the season.
“People don’t put in there that we had eight or nine new players. So it was basically a brand new team. … I’m in a new system. New team, new coach, new players. And then I’ve been off for seven months. So I got to get — individually, I got to for the most part get my rhythm back, get my timing back.”
Thomas said he bears no ill will toward the Cavaliers.
“It just didn’t work out,” he said. “And that just happens.”
He remains optimistic about his future in Los Angeles.
“I’ve been in this situation before when I got traded to Boston,” Thomas said, “a team right outside the playoffs, a team that was young, really didn’t know how to win. And I just brought a different swagger to that organization. And we took it and ran with it.”
He added: “I’m coming to an L.A. team that’s young, that already has a system. And I just want to help. Hopefully I’m here long term, you know, with me being a free agent this summer. But if I’m not, these last 25 games I’m going to play my heart out and show the Lakers why I should be here long term.”