After not appearing in a game since Feb. 3, 2020, Isaiah Thomas has deservingly worked his way back into the NBA. The former Boston Celtics MVP candidate and two-time All-Star agreed to a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday as he’ll look to add a scoring punch to their injury-ridden backcourt.
Thomas’ former head coach Brad Stevens addressed the 32-year-old’s signing with reporters prior to the Celtics’ victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night, in which Stevens was clearly elated for his once-franchise centerpiece.
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Brad Stevens on Thomas Signing With Pels: ‘Isaiah’s Going to Kill it’
“I watched him play with Team USA and communicated with him a little bit around there, and I’m really happy for him,” Stevens claimed. “I sent (Pelicans coach) Stan (Van Gundy) a text today right afterwards. Obviously, I can’t say enough good things about Isaiah.”
Thomas helped lead USA Basketball to two victories in a qualifying tournament for the 2022 FIBA AmeriCup back in February. The 5-foot-9-inch, 185-pounder flashed glimpses of his once-elite offensive arsenal, showing solid explosiveness while compiling 28 points and shooting 50% from 3-point range (6-of-12) over his two games.
“I’m brought back to how much I appreciate the way that that team played, and he was obviously the leader of the group,” Stevens said of Thomas. “But he was so special here and so special to be around that you want the best for him, and this is a great opportunity.”
Stevens continued, “I’m sure Isaiah’s going to kill it when he gets that opportunity. I’m sure it’s going to lead to a long-term opportunity, as we all hope.”
Thomas’ Storied, Short-Lived Run With the Celtics
Stevens coached Thomas from 2015 through 2017, in which the point guard headed one of the more memorable and beloved stints of Celtics basketball in recent memory. Originally playing behind the likes of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight with the Phoenix Suns, Thomas was dealt to Boston in exchange for Marcus Thornton and a 2016 first-round pick in February of 2015.
From there, Thomas quickly elevated his game under the watchful eye of Stevens. Thomas developed into one of the league’s most feared offensive playmakers. By the 2016-17 season, the diminutive-sized point guard was paying big-time dividends for the …read more