Isaiah Thomas came to the Los Angeles Lakers’ rescue, joining the team after its roster has been decimated by injuries and the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
L.A. signed Thomas to a 10-day contract using the NBA’s Hardship Exception before Friday’s 110-92 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Lakers missed six players in the game and then lost Anthony Davis, who has sprained the MCL in his left knee and will be out for at least a month.
Thomas returned to L.A. after playing 17 games for the team in 2017-18. He also reunited with former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James, with whom the veteran playmaker had shared the floor before the trade that sent him to the Lakers almost four years ago.
Thomas said he looks forward to helping James on the court now that he’s healthy — a goal which injuries made impossible to achieve the last time they played together.
“For me, I’m healthy. I’m able to provide for him,” the guard said. “When I was in Cleveland, I was really on one leg. I couldn’t play at the level not only he but the Cleveland Cavaliers needed me to play at. Like I said, those were my low moments. I was very frustrated to continue to try to put in the work and just be in pain every day.
“Deep down I knew I couldn’t compete at the level I needed to, but I wasn’t going to tell anybody that. I was that hurt, so this time around it’s just a lot better. I can help him, and I think even he’s seen that in the summertime when we worked out a few times. Guys are surprised that I’m able to move again.
“I just thank God for the opportunity to be able to move again. That was like the lowest moments of my life.”
Thomas suffered a hip injury back in 2018, severely limiting the guard in the following years and contributing to the scarcity of his appearances in the NBA over the last few years.
Before the Timberwolves spoiled his debut on Friday, the 32-year-old’s last game in the league dated back to April 2021 when he featured in three contests for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Frank Vogel: Thomas is a ‘proven scorer’
Thomas once averaged over 28.9 points on a season, playing for the Boston Celtics in 2016-17. Despite the injury woes that set the guard’s career back, head coach Frank Vogel reminded he is a “proven scorer” after his 19-point performance on Friday.
“He’s a great offensive player that knows how to read,” Vogel said. “That’s one of the things that’s always stuck out with me. We know he’s got a shooting ability and he’s got his floaters and stuff. Knows how to get fouled at the basket, but he’s a great reader of the defense. If you bring double teams, he’s going to make the right pass.
“If you bluff, he’s going to take it to the basket and you have to go over his pick-and-rolls because of his shooting ability. There’s a reason he averaged 28 points a game in this league.”
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