Isaiah Thomas and Joe Johnson have struggled to garner much interest from NBA teams so far this season, so the two former stars sought out an alternative to audition for the league. They've found it with Team USA, currently playing in qualifiers for the 2022 AmeriCup but without the sort of NBA talent that typically fills the roster in offseason tournaments. During in-season qualifiers, it has to rely on whoever is available, and right now, that is Thomas and Johnson, who played well in Friday's 93-77 win over the Bahamas.
The duo combined for 30 points on 11-of-24 shooting in the victory. Thomas led the team with 19 to go along with four rebounds and two assists, while Johnson had a team-best plus-25 point-differential in the victory.
"My first time playing in a little over a year so I was a little rusty, but it felt amazing to be out there competing against really good players and also representing my country," Thomas said.
Thomas is reportedly seeking a return to the NBA, and at 32, the primary question involved in that process revolves around his health. Thomas has not been the same since suffering a hip injury during the 2017 NBA Finals. He averaged 12.2 points per game for the Washington Wizards last season and shot over 40 percent from behind the arc, but he was a poor defender even at his best. If he isn't an elite offensive player, keeping him on the floor becomes a challenge.
Johnson has not played in the NBA since 2018, though he participated in training camp with the Detroit Pistons in 2019. At 39 years old, his path back to the NBA figures to be even more difficult. He won the BIG3 MVP award in 2019, but that has not translated to another full-time opportunity. Like Thomas, a strong international showing is his best chance at making it back to the NBA. So far, both have done their jobs.