PHOENIX SUNS

Isaiah Thomas expects to step in as a leader in Suns’ locker room

Mar 20, 2024, 7:13 PM

Isaiah Thomas has played in 550 NBA games and 25 during the playoffs spanning 11 seasons with 10 teams.

Thomas has experienced a lot throughout his career and expects to bring a leadership quality to the Phoenix Suns’ locker room regardless of his on-court role. The 35-year-old signed a 10-day contract — made official on Wednesday.

“First and foremost is leadership,” Thomas told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on what he brings. “Being in the locker room, my experience is valuable. On the court stuff I can do at a high level still, and if given the opportunity I’m able to showcase that on the offensive end, make plays, make things easier for everybody on this team. But I think most importantly, just leadership, being able to be a voice, being able to be a personality and to bring guys together, I think that’s something I’ve always been really good at.”

He has not played an NBA game since the 2021-22 season but showed off his scoring ability in the G League with the Salt Lake City Stars recently.

Thomas’ experience and the respect from his NBA peers, he believes, gives him a genuine voice even if he is new to a group of guys battling at the end of the season.

The Suns are teetering on the play-in tournament bubble, and nine of their last 10 games come against teams in the Western Conference playoff picture. Thomas joins the picture with 14 games remaining as he entered a Wednesday night matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers.

“Knowing that I could come in, they can respect the things I say knowing what I’ve been through and knowing the success I’ve had in this league, that makes it a lot easier,” Thomas said. “Say if I came in and I don’t really got no background, it’s hard for me to talk, it’s hard for people to hear my voice and see where I’m coming from. I think everybody knows it’s genuine..

“I think the biggest thing for me is just to make an impact each and every day, whether I’m playing or not.”

Head coach Frank Vogel said pregame Thomas is in Phoenix for depth in case of injuries or foul trouble and that he won’t be in the rotation at full strength. He was active on the roster for Wednesday’s game.

Thomas said his job is to be prepared, and he spent time the past few days watching film to pick up where Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal pick their spots. He had some experience with Beal in Washington during the 2019-20 season.

Thomas remains confident in his ability to score the basketball after he scored 32.5 points per game in four contests with the Stars.

“If my name is called, the team has to honor what I’ve done and who I am so I think that makes it easier,” Thomas said. “It makes it easier for the other guys on the floor because you got to guard me, you got to show me some type of respect.”

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