Isaiah Thomas joins the Nuggets, but where could he have been a better fit?
What's next for Isaiah Thomas? A player who finished 5th in the 2017 MVP race was available in the free agency market for quite sometime without a team to take him in.
Eventually, the Denver Nuggets acquired the 5'9 point guard for a veteran minimum $2m contract. Isaiah had a season to forget with injuries hampering his spell at the Cleveland Cavaliers before once again at the Los Angeles Lakers.
IT, who was part of the Kyrie Irving trade, moved from the Boston Celtics to the Cavaliers but had to sit out on the sidelines until January - after the hip injury he sustained during the 2017 playoffs. Even though he expressed his desire to play for the Celtics once again, they appeared unprepared to take chances on him with Terry Rozier being the direct substitute for Kyrie - who too was injured.
Denver presents itself as an opportunity for IT to make a comeback and gives him the possibility to regain his all-star status. It's a long shot especially given the fact that he will be competing against Jamal Murray, their current starter in his position, so he will initially have to come off the substitutes' bench to make an impact.
The deal is done and dusted, but which other teams could have potentially been a better fit for IT? Let's take a look.
New Orleans Pelicans
Pelicans are a team that is very much in need of a point guard to replace Laker-bound Rajon Rondo. Thomas may not be as good as Rondo defensively, but he could very well compensate on the offensive end. With DeMarcus Cousins departing them this summer, the Pelicans do have cap space and IT could potentially be a starter again in the future - even if he just shows flashes of his brilliance since Pelicans don't have a good player in the guard position other than combo-guard Jrue Holiday.
In addition, the Pelicans are a sure-shot playoff team and this environment would be ideal for a star like Isaiah to silence his critics. With that in mind, this team would have definitely been a good fit for him to resurrect his career.
The Magic presents itself as the second best fit for IT. They could definitely use a point-guard of his stature and experience, because they lack a viable player to run their offense. The experiment with Aaron Gordon as their primary ball handler didn't really pan out as expected - while IT's arrival would help to lessen the scoring load off Gordon while helping him to develop too.
For a big man like Mo Bamba, who was recently acquired in the 2018 NBA Draft with their 6th pick, a two-time all-star could definitely be the ideal mentor to guide him through his early years as a professional. Interestingly, reports emerged that Orlando were set to talk with Isaiah and they could have very well offered him a mid-level exception contract, which could have been a maximum of $8.6m.
The main issue behind Orlando is the fact that despite their current potential, they are not yet a play-off calibre team. So the workaround, is that Thomas could have spent a year there to get better both physically and psychologically, before moving on to a bigger team next summer.
However, he is now a part of the Denver Nuggets - who narrowly missed out on the playoffs last year and have potential themselves to succeed this season. We wish him all the best ahead of the forthcoming season where hopefully, he will be back to his very best soon.