After being waived by the LA Clippers at the NBA trade deadline, Isaiah Thomas went unsigned for the rest of the season and has an unclear future ahead.
Just a few years ago, Isaiah Thomas was an All-NBA selection and MVP candidate for the Boston Celtics. As the 60th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Thomas elevated himself to one of the premier stars in the game by the 2016-17 season, where he averaged an astounding 28.9 points per game.
Thomas led the Celtics to a deep playoff run that season as the Eastern Conference’s top seed. The guard left everything out on the court as he played through a significant hip injury and the tragic death of his sister. His injury soon became unbearable, and Boston lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals as Thomas woefully watched from the bench.
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Regardless of the injury, Thomas was due for a lucrative payday in the max contract range from Boston. However, the team traded him to the Cavaliers instead, and his career has gone downhill ever since. Since his peak in 2016-17, Thomas has played on four teams, most recently the Washington Wizards, who traded him to the LA Clippers before he was immediately waived.
After going unsigned for the remainder of the season following his February release, Thomas’ once-promising career appears to be in jeopardy. If given a chance, could Thomas still contribute meaningful minutes to an NBA team?
Many wrote Thomas off last season after he appeared in just 12 games for the Denver Nuggets, having averaged 8.1 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. However, the Wizards took a chance on the guard the following offseason on a team-friendly deal to fill their point guard needs left vacant by an injured John Wall.
Although he was not the Isaiah Thomas of old, the guard still had a bounce-back season with Washington. Thomas once again battled the injury bug early in the season as he suffered a thumb injury in September that required surgery. Still, when he returned, he played much-improved basketball with legitimate minutes.
Thomas averaged 12.2 points on 40.8 percent field goal shooting and an impressive 41.3 percent shooting from 3-point territory as the team’s primary point guard on the season. The trade to the Clippers came at an unfortunate time as Thomas had started to find some rhythm, and then found himself out of the league.
Derrick Rose’s story could inform Isaiah Thomas’s own
Thomas may not appear to be a starter at the moment, but perhaps he could learn something from former teammate Derrick Rose. Rose played in 16 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 before also being traded and soon waived. Many believed that injuries had finally gotten the best of him, and his once surefire Hall of Fame career was over. However, the Minnesota Timberwolves took a chance on him, and Rose rejuvenated his career as one of the best sixth men in the league.
If Thomas were to come in and contribute serviceable minutes off the bench for a team, perhaps he could go through the same revitalization as Rose.
The 31-year-old Thomas has his fair share of flaws, whether it be the defense, the playmaking, or whatever the case. Regardless, the guard solidified himself as a legitimate scorer in the league and could help several teams.
If a team wants that type of dynamic scoring spark off the bench, why not take the gamble on Thomas? He already showcased that he is willing to take a pay cut to prove himself as he signed minimum deals over the past two seasons and has always been a threat with the ball in his hands.
A career 18.1 points per game scorer, Thomas could still have plenty left in the tank at just 31-years-old. All it takes is one team to sign the guard, and it would be hard to imagine that he goes unsigned this upcoming offseason.
Thomas’ career ahead will not be without its adversity, but that is nothing new for him. Since coming into the league as that 60th pick, his entire career has been an uphill battle, which made him the player he is today.
After everything he has been through, do not count Isaiah Thomas out just yet. Hopefully, with all of this extended time off, Thomas comes back with something to prove next season for those doubting him.