New Orleans Pelicans guard Isaiah Thomas is back in the NBA after last playing on Feb 3, 2020, and the layoff may as well have brought him back to the beginning of his career.
The 32-year-old came off the bench on Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks after signing a 10-day contract with New Orleans earlier this week. He posted 10 points, two rebounds and two assists over 25 minutes in his Pels debut.
"I feel like a rookie all over again," Thomas told reporters after the 123-107 loss.
Thomas has struggled with hip issues in the latter part of his career but said he didn't feel feel the need to ice his lower body despite playing nearly half the game. The guard said he hopes to draw back into the lineup on Wednesday when the Pels travel to Brooklyn to face the Nets.
After playing with Team USA earlier this year and proving he is healthy, Thomas was looking for any chance to prove he could still play in the NBA. An injury-plagued New Orleans depth chart made it signing the former Boston Celtics star a worthy addition.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Kira Lewis Jr. and Jaxson Hayes are all nursing various injuries, spreading the roster rather thin. Thomas certainly helps stabilize the backcourt for as long as he's on the floor. That was true against the Hawks on Tuesday—except for the fact Atlanta just couldn't miss from deep (20-of-31 3PT).
How long Thomas remains in New Orleans is as much up to him as it is the Pelicans injured list. If he continues to play well, Thomas can force his way into a contract for the rest of the season. Or—in another best-case scenario—convince another team to sign him after his 10 days in New Orleans are up.
Either way, his rookie mentality should serve him well in a role where nothing is guaranteed.