The 2018-19 season will be huge for Isaiah Thomas as he aims to rebuild his career after a nightmare year.
Just over 12 months ago, the point guard was traded by the Boston Celtics to the Cleveland Cavaliers despite coming off a career year where he led them to the Eastern Conference Finals.
He averaged 28.9 points and was in the top five in MVP voting. His exploits also earned him a first All-NBA selection.
But a hip injury he suffered in the conference finals series against the Cavs changed everything for him.
The Celtics suspected that it could be a long-term issue and chose not to pass on the opportunity of capturing Kyrie Irving.
Thomas’ career has been on a downward spiral since as he only lasted six months with the Cavaliers before they traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers at the deadline.
The purple and gold only took him on as an expiring contract as he was set to hit free agency this summer.
The 29-year-old struggled to recapture his form of the previous campaign as he was bothered by his hip problem.
He was forced to undergo season-ending surgery which always meant that he’d find it tough to land a big deal as a free agent.
With very little offers coming his way, the two-time All-Star eventually decided to accept a one-year deal with the Denver Nuggets worth just $2.3 million.
I.T will have to prove himself again in the hope of securing a more sizable contract in 2019.
Accepting a different role
However, he will be expected to play a reserve role as back up to Jamal Murray but it could be a perfect fit for him, according to NBA Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler.
“Denver is a great place for him,” Drexler said in an interview with Basketball Society Online.
“I think he’ll have a chance to get out of the spotlight, work on his game, work on his health, more importantly. I’m rooting for him.
“One, he’s just an awesome player. Two, his injury is part of the reason he had the salary decrease.”
Drexler doesn’t anticipate any problems for the veteran in Denver and says he’ll be just fine if he produces at a high level again.
“He’ll be fine,” he said. “If he can prove that he can get back to 28 points a game, almost 29 points a game average, he’ll be okay.”
It’ll be hugely difficult for Thomas to do that as he won’t get as many shots as he did in Boston.
Playing on a talented offensive team such as the Nuggets, he’ll have to pick his moments within their system and accept sharing the load.
Isaiah’s close friend Jamal Crawford recently said he’ll be playing with “a chip on his shoulder the size of a boulder.”
If he’s able to have a big impact off the bench, he can be a real contender for the Sixth Man of the Year award.
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