424 days removed from his last NBA game, Ex-Boston Celtics star and former MVP candidate Isaiah Thomas is finally set to make his return to the NBA hardwood.
ESPN’s Andrew Lopez has reported that Thomas has agreed to terms on a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans. The deal is expected to be signed on Saturday.
Thomas’s most recent stint in the league came back during the 2019-20 season with the Washington Wizards where he averaged 12.2 points and 3.6 assists in 23.1 minutes per game. Over his 40 game stint in D.C., Thomas knocked down a career-high 41.3% of his shots from beyond the arc.
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Thomas Recently Starred for Team USA
It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Isaiah Thomas that took the league by storm back some four odd years ago — the 5-foot-9-inch gritty offensive juggernaut that finished within the top-five of MVP voting and led his Celtics to a first-place finish in the Eastern Conference.
A well-documented hip injury sustained during the Celtics’ playoff run in 2016-17 essentially derailed Thomas’s superstar trajectory and ended his career in Beantown. The point guard was unceremoniously traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers the following offseason in exchange for Kyrie Irving. However, his tenure with Cleveland only lasted a mere 15 games. For the next handful of seasons, he would hobble his way through stints with the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and the Wizards looking like a shell of his once-dominant self.
Yet, now at 32 years old, Thomas is finally healthy and beginning to show flashes of the player we all knew him to be. The Washington native recently helped lead USA Basketball to a pair of victories in a qualifying tournament for the 2022 FIBA AmeriCup back in February. Thomas amassed 28 points and five assists while shooting 50% from deep (6-of-12) over the weekend tournament in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
You can see Thomas knock down a few daggers in the clip below:
Thomas Feeling Like His Old Self Again
“I’m moving like I did before the injury,” Thomas said, via Sports Illustrated’s Howard Beck. “And that was the biggest thing I wanted to show people—that I didn’t lose a step. I’m still quick and fast. I’m still powerful. I’m able to move again.”
According to Beck, some scouts remain skeptical of Thomas’s pop and explosiveness despite his solid showing with Team USA. With that said, that doesn’t seem to faze Thomas very much.
“My career hasn’t ever been easy,” he said. “I’ve beat the odds before.”
Over his nine NBA seasons, Thomas has averaged 18.1 points, 5.0 assists, and 2.0 rebounds per game. Due to his diminutive size, Thomas had never been a very good defender — even in his prime. However, as injuries began to take away from his offensive effectiveness, his limitations defensively became increasingly more glaring and far more worrisome for potential suitors.
With that said, if Thomas is as healthy as he claims, he could serve as a nice offensive punch off the bench for New Orleans. Look for the vet to vie for minutes behind the likes of Eric Bledsoe and Lonzo Ball for the Pels, the latter of which is currently dealing with a right hip flexor strain.