The Phoenix Suns and everyone else in the NBA would be hard-pressed to find a player who has fallen farther than Isaiah Thomas over the last few years.
Just three seasons ago, Thomas was an MVP candidate after a masterful 2016-17 campaign with the Boston Celtics in which he averaged 28.9 points, 5.9 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game while shooting 46.3 percent from the floor, 37.9 percent from 3-point range, and 90.9 percent from the free-throw line.
Lost in all of that at the time was the fact that Thomas was playing through a hip injury that worsened as the season progressed. The injury eventually resulted in him being shut down two games into the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Celtics then traded Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a deal for Kyrie Irving that ensuing summer, and things have been all downhill since then.
Thomas has played for three teams since his pinnacle season in Boston, with the Cavaliers trading him to the Los Angeles Lakers midway through the 2017-18 campaign. Thomas then played just 17 games for the Lakers before electing to undergo hip surgery. Last summer, he signed with the Denver Nuggets.
However, Thomas ended up failing in Denver, as he appeared in just 12 contests and was ultimately taken out of the rotation.
Now, the 30-year-old finds himself in no-man’s land. Just who will want a 5-foot-9 guard who hasn’t shown he can score efficiently since May of 2017? We know he is a major defensive liability, and he is not a great distributor, so scoring is the primary thing he brings to the table.
Well, if anyone can take a chance on him, it’s the Phoenix Suns, with whom Thomas spent a half-season in 2014-15 before being dealt to the Celtics.
The Suns are in desperate need of a point guard, and while Thomas does not fit their timeline, he could provide much-needed veteran leadership for youngsters Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and T.J. Warren.
It also could represent an opportunity for Thomas to revitalize his career. He would surely get playing time in Phoenix and could play himself into another contract next summer.
Obviously, the Suns are not going to be contending for anything next season, so Thomas would be nothing more than a signing for the locker room and a trade chip at the deadline if he plays well.
It’s a no-lose situation for Phoenix, which can sign Thomas to a cheap one-year deal. If it doesn’t work out, it can dump him. If it does? Great. Thomas would be a positive influence on the young guys. The Suns might be able to get something for him in a trade.
As for Thomas? Again, it’s a chance for him to try to earn another contract for the future. There would be absolutely no pressure in Phoenix, since the Suns are in rebuilding mode, and he would almost surely start unless Phoenix finds another point guard.
It’s sad, but as of right now, Thomas would add nothing to a contender. He hasn’t shown he can play at a high level in over two years, and we don’t even know if he will ever be able to be productive enough to stay in a rotation again.
But for a squad like the Suns? There is literally zero risk in signing Thomas.
Thomas went from potentially earning $200 million to fighting for scraps. It’s unquestionably a deflating story that is emblematic of the business side of professional sports, but sometimes, those stories end in redemption.
Perhaps signing with Phoenix could mark the start of that long road for Thomas.