Isaiah Thomas made an emotional return to the TD Garden on Monday, a place where he helped carry an up-and-coming Celtics team to the Eastern Conference Finals.
“There were times after I got traded where I sat back and really thought about things that I did as an individual, the things that we had done as a team, and those were amazing moments that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” Thomas said via Tim Bontempts of ESPN.com.
Boston dealt Thomas away months after that pinnacle, and after stops in Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Denver, he hasn’t been able to find his next major role.
“I just want a legit opportunity,” Thomas said. “Whatever the role may be, it’s going to be. But I know I can play at a high level again. And if given the opportunity, I can be an All-Star, I can be All-NBA, I can be all that, because I physically feel great.”
Thomas underwent hip surgery in 2017 and his recovery has taken some time. He missed the first half of this season and he hasn’t shown the same burst on the court in 10 games with the Nuggets that he had in his peak-Boston days. Still, he’s confident that he’ll be able to thrive if given the chance to have a bigger role
“If I get an opportunity, I’m going to be ready for it,” he said. “I’m going to take full advantage of it. And when this summer comes, I’m going to just figure out what’s the best opportunity, what’s the best situation for myself and my family, and then go from there.”
Thomas has played fewer than 20 minutes in all but one appearance for the Nuggets this season. He’s no longer in the regular rotation and – barring an injury – he’s not expected to be reinserted prior to the team’s first playoff appearance since 2013.
The former All-Star is on a one-year deal that pays him slightly over $2MM. Thomas, who at one point in 2017 was expected to seek a maximum-salary deal, will be a free agent again this summer.