Former NBA All-Star Isaiah Thomas is back in the NBA, at least temporarily. Thomas was expected to sign a 10-day hardship deal with the Dallas Mavericks, as first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic on December 29, just days after the end of a similar deal with the shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers. Charania reported Thomas would be on the court with the team against the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night.
Through four games with the Lakers, Thomas averaged 9.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 25.2 minutes per contest. Thomas struggled tremendously, shooting just 22.7% from deep and 30.8% from the field.
After dropping him from the rotation, the Lakers opted not to sign Thomas to another 10-day deal, making him a free agent.
His expected signing with the Mavericks will give him another opportunity to make a full-time return to the NBA.
This shouldn’t be a surprising signing, as Thomas worked out with the Mavs prior to the start of the 2021-22 season. He was joined by Lance Stephenson, who was signed to a 10-day deal by the Atlanta Hawks, who made the announcement December 22, and former Maverick Monta Ellis.
With Dallas sitting at eighth in the Western Conference at 16-17, the team is just trying to stay above water. As shorthanded as they are, the Mavs need players who can come in and impact the game immediately.
Thomas will do just that, boasting plenty of NBA experience. In fact, he’s played in 557 career NBA games, many of which have been in big moments. He’ll join a group of players already on 10-day hardship deals, including former NBA star Brandon Knight.
What could Thomas bring to the table in Dallas?
A Career Cut Short
Thomas took the league by storm during the 2016-17 season when he was with the Boston Celtics. In that season, he produced 28.9 points per game, including one of the most impressive individual playoff runs in recent history.
Just as he was hitting his stride and playing the best basketball of his career, Thomas had hip surgery in May 2020 and has never been the same since. In fact, he’s had lingering hip issues and additional surgeries since this initial procedure.
Around this time last year, Thomas started to feel like himself again. He had a great showing in a workout with a group of NBA players in Los Angeles, saying the success he had only gave him more confidence that he could get back to playing the way he once did.
“That only gave me more confidence to be able to play the game again,” Thomas told The Boston Globe in November 2020. “I mean, I was blowing by people. I haven’t blown by anybody since I had a Celtics uniform on. When I was able to blow by MVP-caliber players, that told me my burst and power and speed are there. I really feel like I’m back.”
Since that historic season, Thomas hasn’t found a consistent role in the NBA, as the Mavericks will be Thomas’ sixth team to play for since his Celtics days.
The 2021-22 Season
Although he stands at only 5-foot-9, Thomas was once one of the most electric scorers in the NBA. While he’s not what he once was, he can still get buckets now at age 32.
He scored a team-high 19 points in 21 minutes during his first game with the Lakers on December 17. Thomas has always played with a chip on his shoulder ever since being taken No. 60 overall in the 2011 NBA draft, which was the very last selection in that class.
With the Mavericks, he will be a veteran presence that will be much needed as a temporary fill-in. While there’s no expectation Thomas will be a longterm piece in Dallas, he could impress enough to get a longer look. The Mavs have underperformed this season and need some additional firepower.
With that in mind, Dallas has struggled defensively this season, which Thomas wouldn’t help due to his size. Regardless, this is a solid, no-risk signing for the Mavericks.