Isaiah Thomas‘ comeback has hit another dead end, writes Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. The former All-Star will have his playing time sharply reduced as coach Michael Malone trims the Nuggets‘ rotation for the rest of the season.
Thomas has appeared in just nine games since returning last month after his latest hip surgery. He is averaging 8.6 PPG, but is shooting just 37.3% from the field and 27.3% from 3-point range.
Malone broke the news to Thomas before Tuesday’s game.
“You definitely talk to him, and I will keep that conversation between myself and IT,” Malone said. “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.”
Thomas will be a free agent again this summer after signing a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal with Denver last summer. The Nuggets knew he wouldn’t be available right away because of the surgery, but hoped he could develop into a backup point guard in time for the postseason. However, Monte Morris seized that slot while Thomas was sidelined, leaving the veteran guard with an uncertain future once again.
Thomas appeared on the verge of a max contract after a pair of All-Star seasons with the Celtics, but he was sent to Cleveland in the Kyrie Irving trade in 2017 and has never been able to overcome a lingering problem with his hip. Thomas, who turned 30 last month, has now had brief, unsuccessful stays with the Cavaliers, Lakers and Nuggets, playing a total of 41 games since leaving Boston.