NBA PM: Adonis Thomas’ Road Back to the League

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Free agent Adonis Thomas is healthy and ready for another chance to play in the NBA.

Thomas last appeared in training camp with the Detroit Pistons last season, but was cut after suffering a leg injury that kept him out for most of the preseason. The decision for the Pistons to cut Thomas was a bit difficult to make as he was one of the best players during training camp.

“The first week of camp, I mean, go back and check the numbers from our scrimmages, he was one of the top four or five guys out here early on,” Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy said at the time.

“He [was] in great shape, he was ready, but he just hasn’t been ready to compete in almost three weeks and really didn’t look like he was ready to go even yesterday. The decision part was actually easy because of that, but it was a hard one to tell a guy because we really, really like him.”

Following his release from the Pistons, Thomas appeared in just two games for the Pistons’ D-League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive, before suffering a season-ending wrist injury in November.

Thomas was just cleared to resume basketball activities back in April, and has been working hard to get back into the NBA. He has worked out for several teams recently, and also competed in front of about 23 NBA teams at the Relativity Sports Pro Day last weekend in Bradenton, Fla.

“This was something that I really needed this summer, especially early in the summer while mini-camps are going on and while teams are looking for Summer League guys and also just teams that just thought of me being a part of their roster,” Thomas told Basketball Insiders after his Pro Day workout.

“I got a chance to shoot the basketball pretty good, got a chance to get to the whole in three-on-three so I did some things that I really liked. I was satisfied with what was going on; this is a great opportunity.”

Perhaps the most encouraging sign for Thomas during his road back from injury is he looks to be in great shape. Oftentimes after suffering an injury, it can be difficult for players to stay in shape. Since Thomas had a wrist injury, he was still able to run and do leg exercises. He joked that he wasn’t able to go too hard exercising since he would sweat onto his cast.

“I tried to get back down to at least my Combine weight [of 232 pounds],” Thomas said of staying in shape. “I’m pretty satisfied with where I’m at. I want to get down a little bit more just because I want to get even more explosive. I feel very light, I feel very comfortable with my weight. It’s just hard right now just trying to do so much and want to be so active on the court and try to showcase so much at once.”

Thomas looked back on his time with the Pistons and wondered what could have been. He felt extremely comfortable with his situation in Detroit and loved playing for Van Gundy. Guys who have played for Van Gundy are often appreciative of what he is able to teach them. Van Gundy has been praised as a head coach who is able to relate to his players and be honest with them. 

Thomas earned his way into camp with the Pistons after a solid showing at the Orlando Summer League last year. In five games for the Pistons, Thomas averaged 8.6 points and four rebounds per game, while shooting 38 percent from three-point range.

“I felt like Detroit was a great spot for me,” Thomas said. “Unfortunately, I had an injury that set me back that didn’t allow me to play in preseason and they had to make a decision from there. I felt like I could have contributed and could have been a part of their rotation, especially with some guys going down. Jodie Meeks missed the majority of the year. Guys like Marcus Morris, they moved him down to the four position [and] Tobias Harris played more of the four spot.

“I thought I could be there and just help the wings. I think that’s a good spot for me. I really enjoyed Coach Van Gundy; he’s a great coach. He brought the best out of a lot of his players.”

Among the free agents who worked out at last weekend’s Pro Day, Thomas looked to be among the standouts. He was extremely aggressive in getting to the basket and shot the ball very well. His ability to drop some weight allowed him to flash the quickness teams love to see. He told Basketball Insiders that he is back to 100 percent and ready to compete for a roster spot.

He has worked out for several teams so far, participating in free-agent mini-camps for the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz. He will also be working out in a free-agent mini-camp for the San Antonio Spurs in the coming days as well. 

“I’m just ready for the opportunity,” Thomas said. “I was just in Houston; I think I did pretty good there. I got a chance to show myself there. Something this summer will happen for me. I just got to keep it rolling.”

At this point, it seems like it’s just a matter of time before Thomas returns to the NBA. If he can remain healthy through Summer League and training camp, he figures to be a serious threat to earn a roster spot.