DAN BICKLEY

Isaiah Thomas signing is a wild swing for Suns in desperate times

Mar 18, 2024, 2:38 PM

We have issues on Planet Orange. Desperation is in the air. Partly because there is very little desperation on the basketball court.

With 14 games left in the regular season, the Suns are reportedly taking a 10-day flier on point guard Isaiah Thomas, one of the most tenacious underdogs in NBA history.

It’s a wild swing for a team with championship aspirations.

I hope it works. Thomas is 5-foot-9 and a born fighter. He’s beaten the odds his entire life. The chip on his shoulder is permanent. It’s easy to rally around a player like him.

He’s also 35 years old. He hasn’t played in the NBA for two years. He’s a ball-dominant point scorer known for creating his own offense, and the Suns don’t need any more offense. They need defense, leadership and a greater sense of urgency.

Clearly, the hope is that Thomas will bring some of the intangibles the current group sorely lacks. They need someone with an edge. They need someone to goose the pace and get the ball up the floor in a hurry. They need someone to manage and organize the offense when necessary.

Either way, it’s a marked departure from March 11, when Suns head coach Frank Vogel was asked if the lack of a traditional point guard was to blame for a team that ranked 26th in turnovers.

“Nope,” he said.

The addition of Thomas can’t hurt. But the news broke on Saturday afternoon, and his impending presence didn’t exactly whip the Suns out of their lethargy. To the contrary, the Suns emitted a strange energy during a Sunday showdown on national television, where their body language was poor; the defense was laughable; the Bucks set an NBA record for three-pointers in a half (18); while Devin Booker and Kevin Durant were uncharacteristically quiet.

They were easily handled by a Bucks team that was missing Giannis Antetokounmpo, a two-time NBA MVP. It was the kind of red-flag performance that’s hard to dismiss.

The last time Antetokounmpo was a late scratch (Jan. 17), the Bucks couldn’t function, losing to the Cavaliers by 40. Against the Suns, they did whatever they wanted while Durant took only 10 shots in 41 minutes, playing with a noticeable lack of aggression.

So, what are watching here?

These are all signs of a basketball team that is losing faith in the head coach. Or they are signs of a team leaking hope, a team with fatal flaws on the roster, a team that never had a chance to begin with. Or maybe the Suns just had a really bad weekend.

Hope for the latter. And that the arrival of Thomas will be a jolt of energy, shaking up the room and the mix in a positive way.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6 – 10 a.m. on Arizona Sports.

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Isaiah Thomas signing is a wild swing for Suns in desperate times