Thomas has been gathering momentum in his rehabilitation process from hip surgery in March, and there’s hope among Thomas and the Nuggets organization that he could return as soon as a Feb. 11-13 homestand against Miami and Sacramento, sources said.
There’s strong confidence that he will return no later than the first game after the All Star break on Feb. 22 in Dallas, league sources said.
The final hurdle for Thomas remains playing full 5-on-5 scrimmages. He is expected to start that process soon. Thomas signed a one-year deal with Denver in July.
Thomas, 29, would be returning to a Nuggets team that entered Friday within a half game of first place Golden State in the West, and employing a bevy of talented guards, including Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Malik Beasley, Will Barton and Monte Morris.
Thomas averaged 28.9 points per game for the Boston Celtics in 2016-17, a second-team All-NBA season that appeared to be clearing the way for a long-term, $100 million contract. Nevertheless, an injury to the same right hip that cut short his playoffs in 2017, cost him eight months of rehab and led to a trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2017, upended his hopes for that kind of long-term deal.
Thomas joined the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a trade-deadline deal last season with Cleveland, where he had played only 15 games in 2017-18.