Isaiah Thomas tells TMZ Sports ... he's fired up to show the NBA he's healed up and back to the superstar he was -- and wants to prove in 2018 that he's worthy of a max contract.
Remember, the 2-time All-Star just signed a veteran's minimum, 1-year, $2 million contract with the Denver Nuggets ... and when we saw him at LAX, he explained why he took the deal.
"The goal is just to show that I'm healthy and I'm the same player I was before," Thomas said ... "I just need one year."
The 29-year-old has been battling hip problems since the 2017 playoffs -- but underwent surgery back in March and recently said he's feeling better than ever.
But, this 2018-19 season isn't all about him ... IT says he's ready to take his squad to new heights.
"We'll make the playoffs ... and then we'll go from there."
Thomas also had some comments about his old team, the Boston Celtics -- which traded him after a remarkable playoff run in 2017.
But, if you think he's bitter ... think again.