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Wizards’ Isaiah Thomas will have a big opportunity, but his minutes will be managed

Isaiah Thomas, Wizards

The Washington Wizards are planning to take all precautions with recent signing Isaiah Thomas, hoping he can complete a comeback story that has faced many hurdles since his initial hip injury in 2017.

Interim general manager Tommy Sheppard spoke about what made the Wizards take a chance on a player who has now played a combined 44 games over the last two seasons with three different teams (Cavaliers, Lakers, Nuggets):

“His résumé speaks for itself. He was one of the top players when he was healthy. He was a finalist for the MVP and in line to get a very huge contract,” Sheppard told Ben Standig of The Athletic. “Injuries don’t care who you are and how much you make. They just happen. His ability to bounce back, we want that story to be told. …

“Isaiah was interesting. It’s all about timing sometimes in free agency. We got word that Jeff Green had a great opportunity to go do something he wanted to, go to Utah. They’ll be one of the top teams in the West. Losing Jeff as a player hurt. Losing Jeff as a person, that was a big loss for us. That was as much as why Isaiah is coming here as anything. He’s a fantastic leader.”

Sheppard then noted the Wizards plan to play him, but will bring him along slowly, giving him a chance to adjust to the pace and rhythm of the game while giving him a few nights off to ease the strain:

“I think the opportunity for him to help us on the floor is obvious. The minutes will be there for him. We’ll manage — load management is a dreaded term right now in the NBA, but we’re going to manage his minutes and be very thoughtful with where he’s at. Where he’s at now is far better than he was at the end of the season. Where he’s at in October will be far better than where he’s at now. We had a great workout with him this morning. Kind of found a baseline. Where are you at? Where are you at physically, mentally? Where is everything headed? Couldn’t be more happy.”

The Wizards already have a good load of injury problems with franchise star John Wall sidelined for what could be the entire 2019-20 season. Many questioned the franchise’s thinking in bringing one injury-prone star to replace another, yet Sheppard seems to have the unequivocal belief that it will all work out in the end.