After spending the 2018-19 NBA season recovering from injury and mostly sitting on the Denver Nuggets' bench, Isaiah Thomas was once again forced to accept a cheap contract this summer. In the 2019 NBA free agency, Thomas signed a one-year, $2.3 million deal to play for the Washington Wizards. Though he didn't get a huge payday, signing with the Wizards makes a lot of sense for Thomas.
With John Wall expected to remain on the sidelines for a long period of time due to injury, Thomas could temporarily serve as the Wizards' starting point guard and have a much bigger role on the offensive end of the floor in the 2019-20 NBA season. Receiving more playing time will help Thomas rebuild his value and prove that he can still perform at a high level. However, according to Ben Standig of The Athletic, there is a more important reason why the Wizards decided to bring Thomas to Washington.
In a recent interview, Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard revealed that they signed Isaiah Thomas to help John Wall in his rehabilitation. Sheppard believes having someone who has been in a similar situation will help Wall overcome the challenges of a long injury recovery process.
"(Isaiah) has been there," Sheppard said, as quoted by Deadspin. "It's a lot different coming from him, his story, his way of explaining, 'Hey, John, this is what you need to do' comes from a totally different angle than us. I think that's valuable."Thomas fully understands how Wall feels right now. As a matter of fact, Thomas' situation was worse. Unlike Wall, who already had financial security, the Brinks truck Thomas ordered has yet to arrive from the time he suffered a hip injury in the Eastern Conference Playoffs 2017. After all the things he has gone through, Thomas didn't think twice before accepting the role of helping Wall in his rehabilitation process.
"It's really a slow grind. I think you have to be more mentally sharp than physically when you're going through it," Thomas said. "It's tough. It's a long road ahead. At times, you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you just have to keep going."
As of now, it remains unknown when will John Wall exactly return to the court. Without him on their roster, the Wizards may even have a hard time earning a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference next season. However, once he fully recovers from injury, Wall vowed to prove that he deserves the massive contract extension he got from the Wizards in the summer of 2017.