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Isaiah Thomas will finally undergo hip surgery

Thomas opted not to get surgery over the summer. Now, he goes under the knife, hoping to put his hip issues behind him.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas will undergo a “minimally invasive” arthroscopic surgery on the right hip that forced him to miss seven months of basketball at the start of the season, the Lakers announced Wednesday. Thomas had the option to undergo surgery during the summer but chose to let his body recover on its own.

“We will be doing a minimally invasive procedure to ‘clean up’ the joint of all inflammatory debris related to his injury from last season,” Dr. Bryan Kelly of The Hospital For Special Surgery told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

How did we get here?

Thomas suffered a hip injury as a member of the Boston Celtics in a March 2017 game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He sat for two games, then played through the pain until he re-injured the hip against the Wizards in the Eastern Conference semifinals. After playing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics shut him down for the rest of the series.

The injury was deemed a right femoral-acetabular impingement with a bruised hip and torn labrum. Thomas had two options: undergo surgery at the time or allow his body to rehab without a procedure.

But Thomas’ injury became a much bigger story when the Celtics traded him as part of a package to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving. The injury even stalled trade talks, with the Cavs forcing the Celtics to part ways with a second-round pick as compensation for the injury.

Thomas missed training camp, preseason and the first 36 games of the season, making his Cavaliers debut on Jan. 2. It was clear, though, Thomas wasn’t the same player who averaged 28.9 points per game in Boston. Cleveland didn’t have time or energy to spend on a player looking to shoot his way back to health — especially not one who spoke of his coaches and teammates the way Thomas did.

So the Cavaliers unloaded Thomas (and several other players) right before the trade deadline. He ended up in Los Angeles, where he has had a resurgence of sorts. He averaged 16.9 points per game in the month of March, including a 29-point game against the Miami Heat on March 1.

Thomas, however, began feeling stiffness in his hip in Memphis ahead of the Lakers’ Saturday matchup against the Grizzlies. Los Angeles sat him for that game and the next. Thomas then left the team to consult specialists in New York. Now, he will undergo surgery to clean up his hip.

What does this mean for Thomas?

The Hospital for Special Surgery is one of the premier orthopedic hospitals on the planet, which means Thomas will likely have a successful hip surgery. That means he could finally have a summer to workout, practice, and get into basketball shape for the beginning of the 2018-19 season. But it remains unclear how serious the procedure is and whether he will recover before next season begins.

The Lakers are expected to have cap space, and if they strike out on the big fish free agents, they could easily sign Thomas to a one-year balloon deal similar to the one-year, $17.7 million contract they gave Kentavious Caldwell-Pope over the summer. Thomas has yet to land a massive pay day in his career.

If his hip surgery goes well, he’ll be in position to finally get one.