Isaiah Thomas addressed the media for the first time since signing a one-year, veteran minimum deal with the Denver Nuggets. He had a lot of interesting things to say about what he thought of the Nuggets roster before joining the team and just how important his relationship with Michael Malone was in making his decision to sign in Denver.
On making the playoffs
I don’t know how many wins it’s going to take. It’s going to be tough. I mean, we’re not guaranteed to make the playoffs, if we’re in the west or the east.
If you’re consistent and you have talent, everything will take care of itself. And we have talent. We just have to be more consistent and take things more serious. I think that’s what I’m here for. I’m not saying I’m the guy that’s going to change everything around here but I know how to win, I know how to lead, and I can help these guys take the next step.
On when he can return to the court
I couldn’t tell you that. I don’t know the exact date. But I can tell you I’m feeling a lot better than I did last season. We do not have a date right now. I’m taking my sweet time because I’ve rushed it before and that didn’t work out for me. I’m just taking as much time as I possibly can to get as close to 100% as possible. This training staff is on the same page as I am on. As an organization we’re on the same page. We’re not worried about right now, we’re worried about April. We’re worried about the playoffs.
On how Denver compares to teams he’s played on before
The last few years...I’m a student of the game, I’m a fan of the game. Denver has been one of the team’s you watch on league pass because they’re that exciting.
One thing I said when I signed here is, the difference between this team, it seems like they don’t just play with each other they play for each other. They like playing together. And I’ve been a part of teams that love playing with each other, love being right next to the next guy in the locker room, and that’s half the battle.
On why he picked Denver
My biggest thing about making my decision coming here was Michael Malone but also the environment, the culture. From playing against these guys it seemed like they loved being around each other and I wanted that back.
On being a loud guy on a quiet team
I’ve always been a student of the game and somebody who’s been able to teach people who want to learn. And this whole team is like...when I signed here everybody texted me (saying) ‘we can’t wait to get going with you,’ ‘we can’t wait to lean this,” and I’m like...that’s a dope feeling to have. For people to want you to be around for your talent and for what you bring to the table. And like I keep saying, I’m just here to help. If guys want help, guys want to learn how to do certain things, then I’m willing to teach these guys because the sky is the limit for these guys.
On Malone letting him be himself
I wanted to go somewhere where somebody was going to let me be Isaiah Thomas. Michael Malone...one of our fist conversations when we played in Sacramento together, there was a group of people that wanted me to be John Stockton. I’ve only seen highlights of John Stockton, I don’t know how to be him. Mike Malone brought be aside and said, I don’t want you to be John Stockton. I want you to be Isaiah Thomas. So when he called me that first time in free agency, he said, ‘when you come here and if you come here, I want you to be Isaiah Thomas. I want you to be that leader in the locker room. I want you to get on guys. I don’t want you to hold nothing back.’
On Nikola Jokic
He’s up there. He’s near the top. Have you seen anybody pass like him? So there’s a strength that not any other bigs in the NBA have. No disrespect to other bigs, there’s a lot of talented bigs in the NBA but he’s up there too. And like Mike said, he probably doesn’t even understand it so wait until he understands how good he is. He’s only going to take steps forward.