Isaiah Thomas waited eight long months before the Los Angeles Lakers offered the veteran guard a chance to make his dreamt-of NBA comeback.
Thomas made his 2021-22 debut on Dec. 17, scoring 19 points for L.A. in the 110-92 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. That was his first NBA appearance since April 2021 when he played in three games for the New Orleans Pelicans while on a 10-day contract.
The 32-year-old guard’s second stint with the Lakers lasted just a tad longer. Also on a 10-day deal, Thomas played in four 2021-22 games for the Purple and Gold, notching one start and averaging 9.3 points in 25.3 minutes on the floor.
It later turned out he wouldn’t return to L.A. However, the Washington alum seems to have convinced NBA executives he can successfully compete in the league again having consigned his injury woes to the past. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports the Dallas Mavericks are signing Thomas, who can join the Western Conference team as soon as on Wednesday night:
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 29, 2021
LeBron James said Thomas finally seemed healthy during his short spell with the Lakers this year, unlike when they shared the court when on the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2017-18. That year, the 5-foot-9 guard suffered a hip injury that would hamper his career for years to come.
After short stops in L.A., Denver, Washington, and New Orleans, Thomas had to look for opportunities to play competitive basketball outside of the NBA, eventually landing on the Grand Rapids Gold in the G League in December.
He scored 42 points in his debut, just a couple of days before signing his 10-day contract with the Lakers.
Carmelo Anthony related to Thomas’ Struggles
One Laker particularly sympathized with Thomas’ quest to return to the NBA.
Carmelo Anthony found himself out of the league after an unsuccessful spell with the Houston Rockets during the 2018-19 campaign — returning onto the NBA courts only thanks to the Portland Trail Blazers giving him a chance to redeem himself a year later.
Speaking from his experience, Anthony said he knew what Thomas had gone through before he joined the Lakers earlier this month.
“It’s something that I can relate to,” Anthony said. “I know the feeling of believing in yourself when everybody counts you out. I know that. Him standing on what he believe in and believing in his game. Believing in his talent, his skill, and what he can do.”
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