Isaiah Thomas averaged 34.7 minutes per game playing for the Kings last season, and was in the starting lineup for 54 of his 72 appearances.
But Thomas left Sacramento in free agency, in part because he felt “very disrespected” by the fact that the Kings seemed to constantly be looking to replace him.
Now with the Suns, Thomas is finding his new situation — one in which he’s part of a talented but crowded backcourt that features Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe — tough to deal with in the season’s early stages.
“It’s a tough situation,” Thomas said. “But you’ve just got to be ready for whatever circumstances coach puts you in. You gotta be ready when your name is called, but I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It’s tough.
“It’s not what I expected,” Thomas continued. “But coach has a tough job. Putting all of us on the floor and trying to mix up the minutes, it’s tough for him. So it’s not just tough for us as players, we just gotta be ready when our name’s called and just know, I mean, coach is trying to do what he thinks is best for the team to put us in a position to win. But the key word is it’s a tough situation. For all of us.”
The part about struggling to deal with less playing time is understandable; the part about this being an unexpected situation is not.
As much confidence as Thomas may have in himself, he had to realize that Dragic, who made third team All-NBA last season, and Bledsoe, who the team just signed to a contract worth $70 million, were going to not only start, but also receive the bulk of the minutes.
It’s worth noting that the Suns are still figuring things out, and there will be plenty of opportunity for Thomas to earn valuable crunch time minutes as the season progresses. And, he’s not the only one on the team to point out that the backcourt logjam has been problematic in the early stages of the season.