The news of Isaiah Thomas’s clean-up arthroscopic right hip surgery ring plenty of alarm bells about his impending future. An unrestricted free agent whose scoring average has folded in half since his best season, Thomas stands a slim chance to garner the All-Star contract he wants, but if he’s able to put his ego behind, he could use next season as a proving ground and a bridge to a long-term contract.

According to ESPN Insider Bobby Marks, the market is slated for a reset in 2019, where players like Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, and LaMarcus Aldridge will become unrestricted free agents.

This would allow Thomas to either stay with the Lakers or another team in a one-year deal, making it an ideal audition for his next long-term contract, if he can prove a clean bill of health and above-average performance.

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According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Thomas to return to the Lakers this summer on a short-term deal, given his cooperation coming off the bench and the leadership he’s shown around the younger players, who have seen a key improvement in the second half of the season.

Thomas is clearly not a part of the Lakers’ long-term plan, but if he can prove healthy enough coming off his latest procedure, it wouldn’t hurt to keep an explosive scorer off the bench, regardless of the star power the organization can acquire down the road.