Isaiah Thomas is getting another shot with the Los Angeles Lakers. Through two games, he’s making the most of his opportunity. His teammate, Carmelo Anthony, is proud to see IT thrive—in part because he can relate.
The Lakers are 0-2 since Thomas was signed via the hardship exception as the team deals with multiple players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. However, Thomas certainly isn’t to blame.
IT led the Lakers in scoring with 19 points in Friday’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was the lone bright spot—on the court and in the feelings—in an otherwise deflating evening that saw Anthony Davis injure his knee and the Lakers get blown out.
Against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, Thomas got the surprise starting nod. IT was a spark plug, particularly in the first half. In 32 minutes, Thomas scored 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting and hit three of his seven attempts from beyond the arc.
Isaiah Thomas ELEVATES for the putback 🔥
He's got 13 PTS as the @Lakers lead on NBA League Pass: https://t.co/V0kkYEn6W6 pic.twitter.com/XYKrcZ5XLF
— NBA (@NBA) December 20, 2021
Afterward, Carmelo—who spent over a year out of the NBA after being waived by the Houston Rockets early in the 2018-19 season—praised Thomas for his resiliency.
“It’s something that I can relate to. I know the feeling of believing in yourself when everybody counts you out. I know that. Him standing on what he believes in and believing in his game, believing in his talent, his skill, and what he can do. I was out a damn near year and a half. It’s still the same mentality that we go through. The same mindset. At times, it gets stressful, I’m sure you want to get down on yourself. As you can see, he was prepared for whatever moment. I’m just happy he’s back in the league. It just so happens to be with us.”
Thomas has been mostly out of basketball since 2019-20 and hasn’t resembled his former All-Star self following two major hip operations—the first of which came after his All-NBA 2017-18 campaign. He played three forgettable games with the Washington Wizards in 2020-21 and scored 42 points in his one and only NBA G-League appearance last week.
On Friday, Thomas expressed his gratitude to the Lakers—for whom he briefly played in 2018.
“It’s been overwhelming for me. It’s been a lot,” Thomas said Friday about the 24 hours prior to his season debut. “It’s something that I always wanted. It’s something that I worked for. Luckily, I got the opportunity. It’s amazing to be able to be on the Lakers again. I’m thankful.”
Thomas expounded on the adversity he’s dealt with beyond basketball.
“Happy to see IT back in the league and healthy,” LeBron James said Friday. “Obviously, he has his shot back and it’s good to have him.”