While Isaiah Thomas is excited and honored to represent Team USA at the AmeriCup qualifiers in Puerto Rico this weekend, he admitted in a conversation with Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press that he’s also viewing the event as an opportunity to showcase himself for NBA teams.
“My ultimate goal is to play in the NBA as soon as possible,” Thomas said. “This allows me to compete against other professionals, represent my country at the same time — which is an honor and a privilege — and ultimately show NBA teams that I’m back to myself and I’m 100% healthy. That’s why I chose to come here. When Team USA brought it to me, it was a no-brainer.”
As Reynolds notes, the games themselves won’t mean much for Team USA, which has already qualified for the 2022 AmeriCup tournament by going undefeated in earlier qualifying games. But they’ll be significant for Thomas, who hasn’t played in an NBA game since being released by the Clippers last February. Veteran teammate Joe Johnson said Thomas has looked “great” in practices.
“One thing I’ll say: In pick and rolls, I think he’s probably going to be unstoppable,” Johnson said of Thomas. “Bigs, I don’t know what they’ll do. Do you get out and hedge? He’ll go around you and split you. Do you try to catch him? He’ll pull up for the jumper. He has a great arsenal. It’s been fun to watch him play, man. I will tell you that.”
Here are a few more odds and ends from across the basketball world:
- Looking back at the 17 in-season trades completed in 2019/20, Sam Amick of The Athletic contends that only four qualify as memorable and continue to have an impact. Amick revisits those four deals: Jordan Clarkson to the Jazz, Clint Capela to the Hawks, Marcus Morris to the Clippers, and the D’Angelo Russell/Andrew Wiggins swap between the Timberwolves and Warriors.
- In a Q&A with Logan Murdock of The Ringer, veteran guard Jeremy Lin explains why he decided to play in the G League this season and discusses his up-and-down journey over the last decade.
- Although Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Green are impressing for the G League Ignite, most draft experts still view Cade Cunningham as the top prospect in the 2021 class. Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) takes a closer look at Cunningham’s outlook, including whether he can play point guard at the next level, while Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer considers whether the Oklahoma State standout is capable of anchoring an NBA franchise.