Isaiah Thomas' rollercoaster season took another twist as it was confirmed he'll have hip surgery that will rule him out for the remainder of the campaign.
The Los Angeles Lakers announced that the point guard will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right hip and is expected to have an extended rehab process.
This latest setback will put Thomas' future in further doubt as he prepares to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer.
More issues with the same hip that kept him out for seven months will make many teams cautious about signing the two-time All-Star.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, however, the Lakers are not one of them.
Since being traded to L.A. from the Cleveland Cavaliers last month, head coach Luke Walton and the front office have been impressed with the way IT has conducted himself and could be interested in re-signing him in the summer.
But that would depend largely on their success in acquiring their top free agent targets; LeBron James and Paul George.
If they're unable to lure those marquee names to Los Angeles, the franchise could potentially explore one-year deals for the 2018-19 season and Isaiah would be at the top of their list if they decide to go down that route, per Wojnarowski.
This would allow them to preserve future salary-cap space where they could look to bring in the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler or even Kyrie Irving as they'll all hit the open market in 2019.
Thomas has continually stated that he would love to remain in Los Angeles and Walton has been encouraged by his professionalism and the way he's had a positive impact on their young players.
"The team's agenda always came first, and he never complained about it once," Walton said, per ESPN. "... Him and Julius [Randle] had a nice connection going.
"I loved the banter between him and [Kyle Kuzma] out there on the floor. He was great. You go down the line, he affected all the guys that played minutes for us, the young guys."
Coach Walton also confirmed that the 29-year-old wanted to be a starter but "never complained" about his role coming off the bench, putting the team's needs before his own.
With the continuing problems with his hip, it's unlikely that the veteran will get a long-term commitment from any team in the offseason and it appears his best bet will be to sign a one-year deal and use it to prove he can still perform at a high level.
He would ideally prefer to do that in a Purple and Gold uniform but there are clearly other factors that will impact the team's decision.
Listen HERE to the first episode of the new GiveMeSport NBA podcast, featuring former Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin.
Enjoy, and please subscribe for all future episodes.News Now - Sport News