Can an old partnership help resurrect Isaiah Thomas’ NBA career?
The Denver Nuggets point guard revealed Thursday in an interview with The Score’s Joseph Casciaro the main reason he chose to join the team. Many were surprised when Thomas signed a one-year, $2 million veteran’s minimum contract with Denver, but Michael Malone’s presence as head coach made the move a no-brainer for the two-time All-Star. After all, Malone was the Sacramento Kings’ coach in 2013-14 when Thomas enjoyed a breakout season, averaging 20.3 points and 6.3 assists in 34.7 minutes per game.
“I trust him, and he trusts me,” Thomas said, following a USA Basketball minicamp in Las Vegas. “I was just looking for an opportunity with somebody that’s gonna let me be who I am. (Malone)’s one of the first guys in this league to love me for who I am, and gave me the opportunity to go out there and play freely. I know he’s going to give me that opportunity in Denver.”
The serious hip injury Thomas suffered and played through in 2016-17 while representing the Boston Celtics has taken a heavy toll on his career. The Celtics traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers last offseason, then the Cavs dealt him prior to the NBA trade deadline to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Thomas left the Lakers with his earning power clipped and arrives in Denver with simple marching orders.
“Be who I am,” Thomas said. “That’s the only reason why I chose Denver. I know (Malone)’s gonna allow me to be Isaiah Thomas.”
That’s as good a starting point as any.