Isaiah Thomas’ NBA return has hit yet another roadblock. ESPN’s Andrew Lopez has reported that the New Orleans Pelicans will not look to bring the veteran guard back “right away” following the conclusion of his 10-day contract.
With that said, Thomas’ time in The Big Easy may not be completely dead.
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Pelicans May Bring Thomas Back at a Later Time
The Pelicans have two weeks before they need to either add another player to their roster on either a 10-day contract or for the rest of the season. Lopez notes that due to tax reasons, the team could opt to wait the entirety of the two weeks before adding any player.
The ESPN reporter added that New Orleans “loved Thomas’ veteran presence and the way he communicated with younger guys while he was with the team,” a notion further expanded upon by Pels head coach Stan Van Gundy after Monday’s 117-110 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
“I haven’t run into a veteran guy more grateful for an opportunity to play in the league in my entire time in the league. He’s been unbelievable here,” Van Gundy told reporters. “To see him go in, even for a few minutes, make a shot, get the appreciation of the fans, I hope he heard it. A lot of times you don’t when you’re out there playing. I hope he heard it. I hope he enjoyed it. Because he certainly deserved it.”
Initially signed earlier this month after a 14-month hiatus from the NBA, Thomas appeared in a total of three games with the Pels, averaging 7.7 points and 1.7 assists. While his stint in New Orleans may have been short, he clearly still managed to leave a lasting effect on those in the Pelicans organization.
“I feel privileged that I’ve gotten the opportunity to coach him even for a very short amount of time,” Van Gundy said of Thomas.
Immediately following the victory over the Kings, Thomas took to the floor in a mostly cleared-out arena to get shots up post-game.
Isaiah Thomas – on the final day of his 10-day deal – getting shots up post game. pic.twitter.com/kbDiO1VH1M
— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) April 13, 2021
Pelicans’ Injuries May Hurt Thomas’ Chances of a Return
Unfortunately for Thomas, recent injuries sustained to the team’s wing position (Josh Hart – thumb, Nickeil Alexander-Walker – high ankle sprain) could force the Pels’ hand in going a different route with their signing. Although, it is worth noting that they did add 6-foot-7-inch James Nunnally on a two-way contract this Monday to help counteract their losses on the wing.
Nunnally, 30, has shot north of 45% from three-point range over his international career spanning across stops in Greece, Puerto Rico, Spain, Israel, Italy, Turkey and China. He’s also appeared in 28 career NBA games with the Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets.
In terms of Thomas, his MVP caliber play looks to be well beyond him, as his well-documented hip injury sustained in the 2017 playoffs has stripped him of his once-elite explosiveness. Still, he looks to be a solid offensive contributor off the bench, scoring in double-digits in two of his three games with the Pelicans.