SEATTLE — Isaiah Thomas was restless and looking to get on the basketball court, so the Denver Nuggets point guard and former Husky star sent a message via social media to the Storm.
“Let me know when y’all need an extra body in practice,” Thomas tweeted. “I’m ready.”
Storm forward Alysha Clark was the first to reply: “Come whenever Isaiah! Haha! We always need an extra body!”
Two days later, Thomas led a practice squad that worked out against the WNBA defending champions on Thursday afternoon at Seattle Pacific University’s Royal Brougham Pavilion.
“I’m just here to get some run in,” said the eight-year veteran who appeared in just 12 games last season after undergoing hip surgery in March 2018. “I’ve been out for a little bit so any chance I can get to get some basketball in — 5 on 5 — with good players I try to do around the city like I’ve always done.”
Thomas, a Tacoma native, played three years at Washington and led the Huskies to three consecutive conference championships, three NCAA tournaments and finished his three-year career with 1,721 points (which is eighth on UW’s career scoring list) while averaging 16.4 per game.
He was selected No. 60 overall – the final pick – in the 2011 NBA draft by the Sacramento Kings. After a short stint in Phoenix and a trade to Boston, Thomas blossomed into a two-time All-Star with the Celtics.
Thomas averaged 28.9 points in Boston during the the 2016-17 season, but his career took a turn following the hip injury.
The Celtics traded him to Cleveland before the 2017-18 season. He played just 15 games with the Cavaliers who dealt him to the Los Angeles Lakers where he appeared in 17 games before the hip surgery.
Thomas, who signed a one-year, $2.2 million deal with Denver, is a free agent this summer who is trying to return to regain the form that made him a MVP-caliber player.
“I’ve been out due to injury for a while so I’m slowly trying to get my rhythm back and get my wind up and get familiar with playing again,” said the 30-year-old veteran. “I’m a gym rat so any chance I can get to play good basketball, I’m going to try to do.”
Thomas and Storm star Sue Bird, who worked as a basketball operations associate with the Denver Nuggets last season, are friends.
However, it was Clark and Storm star Breanna Stewart who coaxed him to practice with the Storm.
“That’s what makes Seattle sports so special,” Clark said. “You have some really amazing players – NBA guys and overseas guys – that are here and come to practice with us.
“That’s just part of the Seattle culture and sports culture. Everybody is in it together and everybody is here to help raise that level. It’s pretty special to be a part of.”
Thomas, who is believed be the first NBA player to practice with the Storm, urged other NBA players to support WNBA teams.
“Hoopers recognize real hoopers and they’re real hoopers,” Thomas said. “I watch the WNBA all the time. I love basketball whether it’s high school or college, girls or boys, it doesn’t matter.
“The Storm is in my backyard. It was only right for me to come out. They play the right way and you got to respect them. They’ve won three WNBA championships. They’re the defending champions. I love the WNBA and I’m one of their biggest fans.”