After missing the playoffs by one game last season, the Denver Nuggets will reportedly turn to a former All-Star to help them make a run at the postseason in 2018-19.
According to multiple reports, Denver has come to terms with free-agent guard Isaiah Thomas on a one-year deal. Thomas, a two-time All-Star with the Boston Celtics, struggled last season while trying to recover from a hip injury that ultimately required hip surgery in March.
Here's more from Gina Mizell of The Denver Post on the pact between the Nuggets and Thomas:
Veteran point guard Isaiah Thomas agreed to sign a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract with the Nuggets, league sources confirmed to The Denver Post.
Thomas was an MVP contender and a fan favorite two seasons ago in Boston, averaging 28.9 points and 5.9 assists per game and earning a spot on the All-NBA second team. He had an emotional return to the Celtics during the playoffs, one day after his sister Chyna died in a car accident.
But a serious hip injury and being traded twice marred Thomas’ 2017-18 season. He was part of the blockbuster deal that sent All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving from Cleveland to Boston, then played in just 15 games for the Cavaliers after rehabbing the injury. He was then dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers during Cleveland’s active trade deadline, and averaged 15.6 points and five assists in 17 games with the Lakers.
ESPN reported Thursday night that Thomas “has been steadily progressing in rehabilitation since an early-April arthroscopic clean-up procedure on the right hip,” adding that he has spent time this offseason in both Los Angeles and his hometown of Seattle. Should Thomas return to full health, he could give Denver some serious scoring and playmaking punch off the bench — a need with Barton’s projected move to the starting small forward spot.
The move also reunites Thomas with Denver coach Michael Malone, who coached Thomas in Sacramento during the 2013-14 season and spoke affectionately about him just after he returned from injury last season.
This reported addition of Thomas wasn't the only move the Nuggets made on Thursday. They also reportedly traded forwards Darrell Arthur and Kenneth Faried as well a 2019 first-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets for Isaiah Whitehead in a move to clear up salary cap space for Denver.
Thomas, the 60th and last pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, made a name for himself as a clutch scorer with the Boston Celtics after his previous two teams (Sacramento and Phoenix) parted ways with him. In two-and-a-half seasons with Boston, the 5-foot-9 guard averaged 24.7 points and six assists per game. In 2016-17, Thomas was the driving force behind the Celtics' run to the Eastern Conference Finals while earning All-NBA Second Team honors along the way.
That playoff run ended, however, with a hip injury that lingered well past Boston dealing him to Cleveland in exchange for Kyrie Irving. Thomas played just 15 games for the Cavaliers before he was again dealt, this time to the Los Angeles Lakers. He suited up in 17 games for the Lakers before hip surgery ended a season in which he shot just 37.3 percent.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski further reports that Thomas' deal with Denver will be for one year at the veteran's minimum.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times during the 2017-18 season, Thomas told Tania Ganguli that he was open to staying in L.A. -- even in a reserve role. Those words came less than a week after Thomas told USA Today's Sam Amick that "I'm not no sixth man. And I won't be a sixth man (in the future). I just want everybody to know that, like clear as can be ..."
Additionally, Thomas told NBA.com's Shaun Powell in a late February he wants a long-term deal in free agency. "I’m looking to sign a long-term deal this summer but anything can happen. I can’t control it and can’t worry too much about it. I was only in Sacramento for three years, Boston for almost three years and the other stops were temporary. I’m looking hopefully to sign long term and call someplace home.”
For the Nuggets, the move to add Thomas bolsters their already considerable depth. The franchise re-signed star center Nikola Jokic and sixth man Will Barton to a long-term contracts on July 9, roughly two weeks after drafting Michael Porter Jr. with the No. 14 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.