Thomas met with Tim Connelly, Denver’s president of basketball operations, and coach Michael Malone in Las Vegas in recent days, continuing to talk and text with them about a role and circumstances surrounding him joining the Nuggets, league sources said.
This is a high-reward, low-risk gamble for the Nuggets, who aspire to reach the Western Conference playoffs this season. For Thomas, it is a chance to re-establish himself on a winning team, stay healthy and re-enter free agency next summer.
Malone is planning for Thomas, rehabbing from hip surgery, to play a significant scoring and playmaking role off Denver’s bench. Malone coached Thomas with the Sacramento Kings in 2013-14 and has been enthusiastic about incorporating him into the Nuggets.
Thomas, 29, has been steadily progressing in rehabilitation since an early-April procedure on his right hip. Thomas averaged 29 points for the Boston Celtics in 2016-17, a second-team All-NBA season that appeared to be clearing the way for a long-term, $100 million contract. But a torn labrum that cost him eight months of rehab, and a trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers last summer, upended his hopes for that kind of a long-term deal.
Thomas joined the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a trade-deadline deal with Cleveland, where he had played only 15 games in the 2017-18 season. Thomas has spent time rehabbing between Seattle and Los Angeles this summer.