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Expectations should be modest for Isaiah Thomas with Wizards, but there is potential for a great story

Expectations should be modest for Isaiah Thomas with Wizards, but there is potential for a great story

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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3 biggest moments in Wizards 125-121 loss to Magic

3 biggest moments in Wizards 125-121 loss to Magic

The Washington Wizards couldn't continue their winning ways against the Orlando Magic on Sunday, falling despite an admirable comeback attempt. 

Here are the game's top three moments. 

Brad Beal injury scare

Bradley Beal has been on a scoring tear of late, notching consecutive 44-point outputs against the Celtics and Timberwolves. But before he could really get going Sunday night, he had an injury scare after rolling his right ankle. 

Beal is far and away the most important player on the roster given John Wall's long rehab from an achilles injury, so an ankle injury would seriously hinder the Wizards chances at staying in games. Thankfully, he stayed out on the court and almost orchestrated an admirable fourth quarter comeback with some smooth shooting from deep. His 34 points were a game high. 

Boost from the Bench

The Wizards have plenty of offensive contributors in the starting five, and on the bench. The second unit trio of CJ Miles, Moritz Wagner and Davis Bertans produced 48 points on the night. Miles was feeling it from deep, going 6-7 from behind the arc to offset some shooting troubles from Troy Brown Jr., who had two points on 1-5 FGM.

Despite only combining for eight points on the night, Brown Jr. was able to connect with rookie Rui Hachimura for a highlight-reel alley-oop

Local Product Markelle Fultz seals the game

D.C. native and Dematha alum Markelle Fultz seems to be settling into the Orlando Magic offense. With 19 points, a career-high two 3-pointers and some great transition basketball, Fultz terrorized the Wizards backcourt all night long. Although it's clear this roster wasn't built for defense, the strategy of leaving Fultz wide open for uncontested threes certainly backfired. 

Beal, on an impressive shooting hot streak down the stretch and only down three with under a minute to go, has his kickout pass deflected by Fultz, who then sealed the game with a dunk over Bertans on the other end. 



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Rui Dunk Tracker: Troy Brown Jr. lobs it to Hachimura for the alley-oop

Rui Dunk Tracker: Troy Brown Jr. lobs it to Hachimura for the alley-oop

Rookie sensation Rui Hachimura has been an inside menace for opposing forwards early in his fledgling NBA career. That didn't change against the Orlando Magic on Sunday night. 

The first dunk came off a beautifully crafted pick and roll with Troy Brown Jr., who lobbed it up for a Hachimura alley-oop. Some great chemistry from the young guys there. 

The Japanese international is averaging 13.8 ppg and 5.7 rpg through his first 10 games, shooting an efficient 50.8% from the field during that stretch. More offensive athleticism like this will do well to take a load off Bradley Beal's shoulders. Beal scored back-to-back 44-point games in a Boston loss and win against Minnesota, but will need more help from his teammates if the Wizards want to improve on their 3-7 record. He scored 13 points in the first half versus Orlando. 

The No. 9 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft has been a matchup headache for defenders with his combination of size and speed. Deployed at the four, he's been both too fast for bigger defenders and too strong for smaller defenders. 

Here's to hoping for more Hachimura dunks in the games ahead!