More than a year removed from his last NBA appearance, and nine months after surgery that he says fixed a bone-on-bone condition in his right hip, Thomas has games to play. The two-time All-Star is suiting up with USA Basketball for a pair of FIBA AmeriCup qualifying games in San Juan, Puerto Rico — and Thomas expects NBA teams to be watching.

“My ultimate goal is to play in the NBA as soon as possible,” Thomas, 32, told The Associated Press. “This allows me to compete against other professionals, represent my country at the same time — which is an honor and a privilege — and ultimately show NBA teams that I’m back to myself and I’m 100% healthy. That’s why I chose to come here. When Team USA brought it to me, it was a no-brainer.”

The games technically don’t mean much to the U.S.; the Americans already have qualified for the AmeriCup tournament that will take place in September 2022. But to Thomas, the matchups against the Bahamas on Friday and Mexico on Saturday mean plenty.

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