The last time he suited up for a game was with the New Orleans Pelicans via a 10-day contract this past regular season. He appeared in three games coming off the bench and was promptly released afterward.
Before his brief appearance as a Pelican, Thomas bounced around the league, spending time with the Washington Wizards, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s been a tumultuous past few years for the 5-9 point guard, with many writing off his chances of returning to the NBA.
After scoring a jaw-dropping 81 points during a recent pro-am league game, LeBron James himself offered some encouragement to Thomas.
LeBron James tweeted out support to a former teammate after watching him score 81 points during a pro-am game
James and Thomas spent a brief amount of time as teammates in Cleveland. However, the partnership didn’t necessarily go Thomas’ way.
James was frustrated at Thomas’s overall ability and health (coming off a nasty hip injury) and didn’t spend much time building chemistry with the former Boston Celtic.
Thomas was the returning player in the 2017 Kyrie Irving trade between Cleveland and Boston, which ended up being lopsided in Boston’s favor. The Celtics got a consistent 20 points per game scorer who was comfortable running the offense, whereas James and the Cavaliers got a version of Thomas that wasn’t close to the player he was from 2015 to 2017.
Cleveland traded Thomas away after just 15 games.
Isaiah Thomas used to be one of the best point guards in the NBA
Prior to his disastrous season in Cleveland (and the poor years that followed), Thomas was considered one of the top point guards in the league during his peak with the Celtics. He averaged 22.2 points per game in 2015/16 and 28.9 points per game in 2016/17.
Thomas had an unorthodox playing style due to his smaller stature, but his numbers speak for himself.
He figured out an effective way to score the basketball, and the Celtics were happy to ride the production up until the Irving trade.
James and Thomas could reunite this season
Having been away from the NBA for a few months now, it seems unlikely that Thomas is nearing a contract with a team anytime soon. A 10-day deal is possible if a team feels generous, but that’s a route that Thomas might not even consider these days.
At 32 years of age, it’s not like Thomas is a high-upside player worth taking a stab at. His best days are long behind him.
However, according to a recent report by ESPN’s Marc Stein, James and the Lakers have, in fact, “weighed the potential signing” of Thomas. Maybe James feels bad for the way things ended in Cleveland, or maybe the Lakers genuinely believe he can contribute as a bottom-of-the-depth-chart point guard.
Either way, Thomas finishing off his career in LA — in pursuit of a championship — would be a feel-good ending for a player who really had to overcome countless obstacles to get to the NBA in the first place.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.