NBA notebook: Nuggets may get G Thomas back before break

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[January 19, 2019]  After missing the entire season while recuperating from hip surgery last March, Denver Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas reportedly may return to the court before the NBA's All-Star break in mid-February.

League sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday that the two-time All-Star has been progressing in his rehab and that the Nuggets are optimistic that he could debut with the team as early as Feb. 11, when the Nuggets host the Miami Heat shortly before All-Star weekend. According to the report, the team believes at worst he should be activated for the Nuggets' first game after the break against the Mavericks on Feb. 22 at Dallas.

Thomas, who turns 30 next month, has not played a game since last March 22 while a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. He signed a one-year contract as a free agent with the Nuggets last summer, with Denver being his third team in less than a year and sixth of his career.
 


Thomas has averaged 18.9 points and 5.1 assists per game during his oft-injured career that began in the 2011-12 season after he was drafted by the Sacramento Kings. His finest success came with the Boston Celtics, with whom he averaged 24.7 ppg in two-plus seasons -- including a career-best 28.9 ppg in 2016-17.

--Chicago Bulls rookie forward Wendell Carter Jr. is expected to undergo thumb surgery that will sideline him eight to 12 weeks, the team announced.

Carter injured his left thumb when he fell during Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers. An MRI exam on Wednesday appeared to show the ligament wasn't detached but a follow-up exam on Friday by two hand specialists showed instability with surgery being recommended.

Carter hasn't yet determined whether he will undergo surgery. The 6-foot-10 Carter is averaging 10.3 points and 7.0 rebounds in 44 games, all starts. He didn't play for the first time all season when he sat out Wednesday's game against the Nuggets.

--Lakers guard Rajon Rondo has received clearance to resume full-contact practices, the team announced.

Rondo has missed the team's past 12 games after surgery to repair a Grade 3 sprain to his right ring finger, suffered during a win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. While he finished out the game, during which LeBron James also suffered a left groin strain, Rondo was in considerable pain the next day and unable to use his hand. He had surgery three days later and was expected to miss at least four weeks with the injury.

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This is the second injury to his right hand that Rondo has rehabbed this season. In November he fractured a bone in the hand and missed 17 games. In 14 games this season, Rondo is averaging 8.4 points, 6.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds.

--The impasse between the Dallas Mavericks and second-year point guard Dennis Smith Jr. continues, and coach Rick Carlisle said that Smith won't be on an upcoming two-game road trip.

Smith, who is unhappy with the club, didn't report to practice on Friday, according to Carlisle. The Mavericks visit the Indiana Pacers on Saturday and the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.

Smith has missed the past four games while reportedly being frustrated with his role and having heavy friction with Carlisle.

--Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell will not defend his crown at the 2019 All-Star Dunk Contest, he told reporters at the team's shootaround.

"It really stems from when I got hurt, the three different times I got hurt this year. I remember last year when I came back from All-Star, I was tired," said Mitchell, who captured the title as a rookie.

"Fortunately, we had some days where I could rest, but there would be days where I wouldn't go to the gym and I would just sleep and get rest.

--Carmelo Anthony has "multiple options" available to him if he wants to return to the NBA, The Athletic reported.

Anthony, 34, is on the roster of the Houston Rockets, but he and the team divorced in mid-November. He signed a one-year, $2.4 million contract in the summer.

He is expected to choose one of the options before the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 7. It is unclear whether the Rockets would try to trade him or waive him. No potential suitors were named.

--Luka Doncic takes his All-Star campaign to the Midwest on Saturday night when the Mavericks open a two-game trip against the Pacers.

The rookie sensation ranked second to James among Western Conference frontcourt players when the most recent fan-voting tabulations were announced this week.

Balloting ends Monday night, giving Doncic two more games -- both on the road -- to get enough votes to remain ahead of the likes of Paul George, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis in a loaded Western race.

--Field Level Media

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