With the start of 2019 NBA free agency just around the corner, chatter around names like Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, among others continues to ramp up. But one of the most intriguing free agents is unlikely to be a player receiving a max-level contract. Instead, it’s former All-Star Isaiah Thomas.
The 30-year-old guard spent last season on a one-year deal with the Denver Nuggets, a team that boasted one of the deepest benches in the NBA. In turn, Thomas was unable to see much playing time. But he’s now fully healthy and could have the opportunity to prove himself once he finds a new home in free agency.
While Thomas battled a hip injury that occurred during the 2017-18 season, he missed nearly an entire year before returning for the Nuggets in March of 2019. Looking forward, we’re going to evaluate the best free agency fits for Thomas, headlined by two teams he’s spent time with previously.
Follow the Heavy Lakers page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Isaiah Thomas Free Agency: Celtics, Lakers Headline Best Fits
The Boston Celtics are set to lose both Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier in free agency it seems. In turn, it means they’ll need to find depth at point guard, and Thomas could make sense as a fit, even if he doesn’t step into a starting role.
The Celtics have a number of talented young players on the roster, including Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, but a reunion in Boston for Thomas would be a great story. Even beyond that, the team losing two point guards could create a situation where one or two players are added at the position in free agency.
So, why not someone like Thomas, who has the respect of the fanbase and a massive chip on his shoulder?
Another team who I’d view as an interesting fit is the Los Angeles Lakers. This especially stands true if they’re able to add a max-level player in free agency to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Although the IT4/LeBron pairing wasn’t perfect previously with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thomas could be slotted as the primary guard with the second unit where he’d log decent minutes.
Realistically, it’s hard to argue with how big of a need the potential signing Thomas would address for the Lakers, especially if they’re tight on salary cap space. With that said, it would almost certainly mean he’d have to sign a smaller “prove it” type of deal, which may be the case regardless.
Heat & Hornets Teams to Watch for Isaiah Thomas in Free Agency
While the Miami Heat have quite a bit of depth across their roster, I love the idea of adding Thomas to provide bench scoring at point guard. Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow all logged time at point guard last year, but only Dragic plays the position normally. Winslow is a player to monitor here, as he proved capable of running the point, but regardless, Thomas would add depth and he’d see solid minutes more than likely.
As for the Charlotte Hornets, if you believe they lose Kemba Walker in free agency, then point guard depth becomes an immediate focus in free agency. Even if they are able to re-sign him, adding Thomas as the backup point guard would be interesting. He’d help to ease some of the scoring burden off Walker and potentially allow the coaching staff to cut back his minutes slightly to keep him fresh, assuming Thomas is productive in 2019-20.