Isaiah Thomas’ NBA career has taken a turn for the worse since the Boston Celtics traded the two-time All-Star to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of a deal for Kyrie Irving before the 2017-18 season.
He’s played for four teams — Cavs, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and Washington Wizards — in that stretch and hasn’t been able to recapture his old magic, which included an elite scoring touch and an impressive knack for delivering in crunch time.
But now, eight months after being traded by the Wizards to the Los Angeles Clippers and immediately waived by his new organization, Thomas believes he’s ready to again produce at a high level.
That’s because Thomas is five months removed from a hip resurfacing procedure that has the 31-year-old feeling much better physically.
“It’s like night and day for me,” Thomas recently told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “There’s no more pain. I’ve got my full range of motion. For three years, I was trying to play the best players in the world on one leg. I needed help from my kids to put my socks on in the morning.
“Now, I can lift weights. I can squat low. I can work out twice a day. I’m able to cut and move and stop, able to cut and go. I feel like I’m 31 years old again. And now, I have scientific evidence to show that.”
Thomas has lobbied in the past for another NBA opportunity, even on multiple occasions expressing a willingness to come off the bench for Boston. His health has been a question mark, though, especially since the diminutive point guard hardly has looked like himself since trying to battle through a hip injury in the 2017 playoffs.
Obviously, it’s difficult to know whether Thomas’ recent procedure will lead to a career renaissance. After all, he’s still relatively young but no spring chicken in basketball terms.
That said, Thomas sure sounds extra motivated — which is saying something considering the 5-foot-9 University of Washington product long has had a giant chip on his shoulder.
“In some ways, the time off because of COVID was a blessing in disguise for my career,” Thomas told Wojnarowski. “It allowed me to take the time to get this procedure done, and get back physically to a level I need to be to compete in the league. I made the right decision to do this, and I’m anxious to show people I can contribute to a team again.”
Thomas, who spent time with the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns before making his way to Boston, averaged a career-high 28.9 points per game during the 2016-17 season.
It’s hard to imagine him returning to those heights. But it’s far less difficult to envision him contributing in the NBA in some capacity next season if he’s really feeling as good as he suggests.