With Austin Rivers potentially parting ways with the Houston Rockets this offseason, a revived Isaiah Thomas could be an option in Space City.
After battling a hip injury in the last few years of his well-traveled NBA career, Isaiah Thomas informed ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday that he is ready to return to the court next season. The two-time NBA All-Star will be a free agent and should draw interest from a few teams in need of guard depth. The Houston Rockets should put themselves in the mix.
With Rockets guard Austin Rivers having a player option this offseason, Houston can package him in a trade if he opts in to maintain some cap space. If he doesn’t, that would make it easier to offer a contract to Isaiah Thomas.
It’s unlikely Thomas would be searching for a large deal and more of an opportunity to prove that, as a 31-year-old undersized guard, he can still contribute to a contending team.
“Thomas is now a free agent and has his sights set on finding a new home for the 2020-21 season,” said Ryan Young in his Yahoo column spotlighting Thomas.
We last saw Thomas with the Washington Wizards in the 2019-20 season, where he averaged 12.2 points per game. Most notable from that one year with the Wizards is a career-high percentage of 41.3 from 3-point range, which can be a valuable asset with James Harden and Russell Westbrook driving the lane.
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Before that stop were three forgettable tenures with the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Then there was his 2014-17 run with the Boston Celtics, where he made the biggest name for himself with career highs in points per game and field goal percentage. Boston is where Isaiah Thomas became IT.
The Houston Rockets wouldn’t need him to be the Celtics version of Thomas. What they need is consistency off the bench. On a team led by two superstars, he’d be expected to give some production for the second unit.
Consistency is something Austin Rivers struggled with, especially in the postseason, where turnovers and poor shotmaking didn’t help his cause.
With Isaiah Thomas signing, the new coaching regime could appoint him the second-team leader, giving them an additional veteran influence for young players like Ben McLemore.
The Houston Rockets learned their lesson by letting guys play their style of game with the Russell Westbrook signing. When the gameplan didn’t suit Westbrook’s game and it was hurting the team, they adapted to the micro-ball lineup.
If Houston adapts to Thomas’ style and allows him to lead the second team, the Rockets could significantly improve from Rivers at the guard spot.