Nuggets’ Mike Malone plans to remove Isaiah Thomas from rotation after private conversation
Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone addressed his plan to remove guard Isaiah Thomas from the rotation in a private conversation after not playing him in a 133-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Thomas had just come back from a 56-game absence this season after a second hip procedure, hoping to be the sixth man this roster needed — something that truly didn’t work out as intended.
“You definitely talk to him, and I will keep that conversation between myself and IT,” Malone said, according to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. “Not an easy conversation, but that’s my job. It’s never about Isaiah or any individual. It’s about what’s best for our team. I made the decision to shorten the rotation, only play eight guys in the first quarter, and I’m going to continue to do that for the time being. Sixteen games to go, I’m trying to find a rhythm and a rotation that I feel like will give us the best chance to win now and into the playoffs.”
Coaches will often start to shorten their rotation as the playoffs approach, as there isn’t room for empty or trial minutes when fighting for life in the playoffs. Unfortunately for Thomas, who was being eased back into a regular playing load, his play on the court didn’t give Malone the conviction he should be suiting up now that the Nuggets are chasing a very important No. 1 seed.
In nine games since his return, Thomas averaged 8.6 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists through 15.6 minutes per game — a small sample, but one big enough for Malone to stick to his spark plug backcourt of Monte Morris and Malik Beasley for a scoring punch off the bench.