Isaiah Thomas could make his debut appearance for the Denver Nuggets just ahead of next month's NBA All-Star Game.
That is according to ESPN's NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, who has quoted league sources whom he says told the media house that the point guard is expected to return from his lengthy absence during the Nuggets' homestand between February 11-13.
Woj reports that there is "strong confidence" the player will be eligible to play for the team in their first game following the All-Star break on February 22 against the Dallas Mavericks.
Story on ESPN: There's optimism that former All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas can make his Denver Nuggets debut on Feb. 11-13 homestand prior to All-Star Break. https://t.co/tsbtNg1jBL— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 19, 2019
"There is optimism that former All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas will make his debut with the Denver Nuggets prior to the mid-February All-Star break, league sources told ESPN on Friday.
"Thomas has been gathering momentum in his rehabilitation process from hip surgery in March, and there's hope among Thomas and the Nuggets organization that he could return as soon as a Feb. 11-13 homestand against Miami and Sacramento, sources said.
"There's strong confidence that he will return no later than the first game after the All Star break on Feb. 22 in Dallas, league sources said."
- Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN.com
Thomas enjoyed a potent 2016-17 campaign with the Boston Celtics and looked set to secure a major contract. However, an injury to his right hip dashed those hopes and saw him traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, having already ruined his involvement in the 2017 playoffs, in which he led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2012.
The guard joined the Los Angeles Lakers via trade last season but played just 15 games before undergoing surgery in March.
Denver took the gamble on the 29-year-old, signing him to a one-year deal in July. And he's left with one final hurdle - participating in full 5-on-5 scrimmages - before being cleared to play.
What This Means
Despite their many injuries, the Nuggets have done very well in the West, leading the conference for a while, before falling to the Golden State Warriors in a blowout loss earlier this month.
The team is now in second place, just a single game behind the defending champions and Thomas' return will hand them a huge boost for the second half of the season.
Mike Malone has some very talented guards at his disposal at the moment, with Jamal Murray, Malik Beasley, Gary Harris, Will Barton, and Monte Morris all competing for spots. Having Thomas join the roster is likely to give him the kind of headache every coach wants.