Former point guard Isaiah Thomas ascended into a fan favorite during his playing days with the Boston Celtics. Unfortunately for IT and his fans, Thomas has struggled to find a home since his emotional departure from the franchise in 2017.
Thomas' unique NBA journey
Thomas underwent an unconventional start to his NBA career, being drafted by the Sacramento Kings with the last pick of the 2011 draft. Despite being the 60th selection, his ability was clear from day one, as he played his way into the rotation and was eventually named to an All-NBA rookie team in 2012.
After making a name for himself in Sacramento, the five-foot-nine guard made his way to the Phoenix Suns via a sign-and-trade in July 2014. It turned out to be an uneasy fit for Thomas, as he fought for minutes with talented ball handlers Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and Goran Dragic. The cluster of guards eventually forced the front office to make a decision, and Thomas was traded to the Celtics in February 2015.
It was at the Celtics that the Washington native peaked in the association. In 2016, Thomas averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists per game, earning him both All-Star and All-NBA honors. In addition, he led the franchise to a conference-best 1st seed for the first time since 2008 and an Eastern Conference Finals berth that included a 53-point performance against the Washington Wizards in the second round. That's when Thomas became The King in the Fourth.
The downfall of IT4
Unfortunately for the talented scorer, it was all downhill from there. He was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers the following season and battled a hip injury thereafter that eventually derailed his career.
Short stints at the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets followed until Thomas was suddenly left without a team in the summer of 2019.
To his credit, he never gave up on his NBA return and accepted a series of 10-day contracts with the New Orleans Pelicans, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, and Charlotte Hornets in an attempt to make a roster long-term.
It wasn't to be, and Thomas recently opened up about the challenges of the 10-day contracts in the league.
"Basically in a 10-day, you got three games, you got a few games if you get the opportunity. So in a 10-day you usually they're signing you for an extra spot. You are probably not going to play. So those are tough situation to be in, and obviously anybody who gets a 10-day is going to take it. But it doesn't always end well for the individual because you're not given a real chance," Thomas said.
The streets will never forget
IT's transparency is a refreshing and valuable insight for ball players currently undergoing the uncertainty of 10-day contracts.
It's sad to see Thomas not on an NBA roster when it seemed like he was filling up our social media feeds with incredible scoring highlights just yesterday.
His abrupt departure from the league is a perfect example of the sometimes-unforgiving nature of professional sports that continue to move forward no matter what the cost. It's unlikely we will ever see Thomas on an NBA roster again, but fortunately, he left a lasting impression that will live long in the memory.