The Washington Wizards were not planning on being very active during the trade deadline. However, that all changed when they traded guard Isaiah Thomas to the Los Angeles Clippers for Jerome Robinson. This was part of a three-team trade that brought Marcus Morris, brother of former Wizard Markieff, to the Clippers. Thomas was then bought out of his contract shortly after the trade. The Wizards also sent the draft rights of 20-year-old Ukranian point guard Issuf Sanon to the New York Knicks.
Thomas, 30, signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Wizards this past summer. The expectation was that he was going to start at the point guard position. Thomas was glad that he was able to find a team that truly believed in him. After two injury-riddled seasons, he thought that Washington would be the right place to rekindle that magic from the 2016-2017 season that saw him as an MVP runner-up.
In 40 games with the Wizards this season, Thomas averaged 12.2 points on 40.8-percent shooting and 3.7 assists a game. His offensive rating was at 103, the highest it has been since the 2016-2017 season. Things were looking up early on in his Wizards tenure.
Basketball is more than just scoring
Unfortunately, Thomas was not effective on the other side of the ball. His defensive rating was at a staggering 122, the worst of his career. His defensive box plus-minus was at -5.0, also the worst of his 9-year career. These defensive numbers are some of the worst on the Wizards, and that says something for a team that does not play defense well.
Despite being a feel-good story before the season began, Thomas looked like a shell of himself. His floater was not elevating, and he was only taking 4.7 shots a game from three. For a player shooting 41-percent from there, that is not nearly enough attempts a game. It certainly seemed as if his size and lack of explosion prevented him from getting enough separation to consistently get more outside shots off.
Thomas was also in several difficult situations this year. One such situation was in December, when he noticed a Philadelphia 76ers fan holding up both middle fingers at him and yelling profanity. Thomas then reacted by entering the stands to address the fan and his friend. He was later suspended two games for deliberately entering the stands.
Another was on January 3 against the Portland Trail Blazers, when he extended his right hand into referee Marat Kogut’s chest, who ejected Thomas from the game. The then shorthanded Wizards went on to lose the game by 19.
Despite the two incidents, Thomas was a player that helped the locker room. The front office thought that his production was solid for a player making the veteran minimum.
While it is a shame that Thomas could not return to All-Star level in Washington, he was never going to be here past this season. Veterans on teams that are trying to get younger never last, and Thomas happened to be in that situation. Hopefully, he can find a team that can play to his strengths in the near future.