Thomas was signed to a 10-day hardship deal on Wednesday to replace Brandon Knight, another hardship-deal addition who entered the league's protocols after testing positive for COVID-19.
Thomas, whose 10-day deal with the Los Angeles Lakers expired earlier this week, said he was grocery shopping near his Seattle home Wednesday morning when Mavs general manager Nico Harrison called to inquire about whether he could play in Sacramento that night. He quickly booked a flight and arrived in Sacramento a little more than four hours before tipoff.
"I was like, 'Hell yeah I can play tonight!'" Thomas said after scoring six points and dishing out four assists in 13 minutes during the Mavs' 95-94 loss to the Sacramento Kings, receiving a standing ovation when he entered the game. "I just actually got home from L.A. [on Tuesday]. It's been a lot, but I'm built for this. I'm ready for it. I'm thankful for the opportunity. And it was a no-brainer when he asked."
However, Thomas stint with the Mavs might last only one game, with the team optimistic that several players will be returning soon and with Thomas' 10-day deal likely to expire while he's in the league's protocols. The Mavs currently have eight players in the protocols.
Thomas, 32, was a two-time All-Star for the Boston Celtics before a serious hip injury derailed his career. He has spent most of the past two seasons out of the league, playing a total of seven games on 10-day deals with the New Orleans Pelicans in April and Lakers this month.