Hip surgery ends disastrous season for Lakers’ Thomas

Isiah Thomas at his final game with the Los Angeles Lakers against Miami The Los Angeles Lakers have mercifully put an end to Isaiah Thomas’ season, sending the hobbled guard to surgery to repair his still-injured hip. Thomas was considered one of the top offensive players in the NBA last year, but he enters free agency with uncertainty regarding his hip, which will likely prevent him from securing the lucrative contract it appeared he deserved prior to the injury.

 

Thomas decided not to have surgery last offseason after playing through his hip injury during the 2017 playoffs with the Boston Celtics. The Celtics dealt Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers before the season began and although he would miss the first few months, the idea of pairing the quickness and creativity of Thomas with LeBron James seemed worth the wait in Cleveland. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, Thomas couldn’t regain the explosiveness in his step due to problems with his hip once he did return, and patience with his underperformance quickly wore thin.

 

Cleveland traded Thomas to the Lakers at the trade deadline, ending any hope he had of competing for a championship in 2018 and also throwing his future into question. Thomas continued to struggle in Los Angeles, as his diminutive size - he’s the shortest player in the league - seemed all the more exposed with his hip still slowing him down. The Lakers relegated Thomas to the bench, and while he got along with his new teammates better than he did with the Cavaliers, Thomas was statistically playing the worst basketball of his professional career, which is not somewhere anyone wants to be at 29 years old with no contract for next year.

 

The Lakers have expressed interest in resigning Thomas, but he’s not a top priority for them. The upcoming offseason in Los Angeles is about wooing James away from Cleveland and convincing Paul George to join the Lakers as well. If they miss on those free agent targets, an ESPN report suggests the Lakers will offer Thomas a one-year deal, mainly as a way of keeping their spending up for salary cap purposes.

 

Thomas was one of the most coveted commodities during the height of his career season in Boston, and less than a year later he’s facing the prospect of being a free agency afterthought. The rehabilitation from Thursday’s surgery will be lengthy, and it’s possible no team takes a chance on Thomas in free agency with all the uncertainty around his health. At some point after the surgery, Thomas will need to prove he can get back to full strength - his career depends on it.