With little money to spend in free agency, the Wizards have no choice but to search for bargains this summer. Sometimes that leads to taking a chance on a player who could exceed their contract if they can somehow overcome an injury that has scared off other teams.
That's where the Wizards found themselves on Monday night, as they agreed to terms with two-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas on a minimum contract, NBC Sports Washington confirmed. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news.
Washington knows full well what Thomas is capable of when healthy. He was last at his peak against them in the second round of the 2017 Eastern Conference playoffs. Then a star for the Celtics, Thomas battled a hip injury to lead Boston over the Wizards in seven games.
But after that series, and because of that injury, he has never been the same since. He has appeared in only 44 games across two seasons with three different teams, averaging 13.3 points while shooting 36.7 percent from the field and 29.0 percent from three.
Last season, Thomas played only 12 games for the Denver Nuggets. So, expectations should be low for what he can produce in Washington.
If his last two years are any indication, the Wizards could have some real issues at point guard. They have John Wall, but he's going to miss at least 50 games due to an Achilles injury.
Ish Smith, whom they brought in on a two-year deal on Monday morning, is probably best suited to come off the bench. And after that it's 19-year-old Isaac Bonga and undrafted rookie Justin Robinson. If Thomas' hip injury remains an issue, we could see a lot more of Troy Brown Jr. and Jordan McRae at point guard than the Wizards would prefer.
Really, it's debatable whether the Wizards are in position to take the risk that Thomas presents. When he missed almost all of last season, the talent-rich Nuggets didn't skip a beat.
But the Wizards will be without Wall for potentially the entire season and they don't have another proven starter on their roster. Also, in Wall and Dwight Howard, they already have two former All-Stars trying to regain their form after an injury. Three seems like a lot.
But what the Wizards are betting on, and it should be noted they aren't wagering much, is that Thomas will beat the odds. The good news is that his career has been defined by just that, the last two years not withstanding.
At 5-foot-9, he is the shortest active player in the NBA. He was the last player selected in the 2011 draft and was never expected to make two All-Star teams, earn All-NBA and now be here entering his ninth NBA season.
If he can get back to anything close to that, it will make for a great story. And if it is in Washington, it will be in a place where short guys are welcome. He is joining an organization that employed Muggsy Bogues, Earl Boykins and Michael Adams.
Even if Thomas can't reclaim his form, he should be a positive influence in the locker room. He is smart, humble and a hard worker. The Wizards have a lot of young, developing players that could learn from him.
Certainly, the Wizards will hope he does more than impart wisdom. They want him to be part of their rotation and, if he's healthy, maybe even start.
Just don't set the expectations high and maybe he can exceed them.
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