Last season, Isaiah Thomas was considered as one of the best scorers in the league and the man who can lead the Boston Celtics back to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, everything started to change when he suffered an injury. In August, the Celtics included him in a trade package that was sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers to acquire Kyrie Irving.
Thomas was surprised and extremely disappointed with the Celtics’ decision, especially knowing how he helped them become a relevant team once again and recruit free agents like Al Horford and Gordon Hayward. His stint in Cleveland didn’t last long after the Cavaliers decided to move him to the Los Angeles Lakers before the February 8 trade deadline.
After finishing with 22 points in his Lakers’ debut, Isaiah Thomas said that he “got his powers back.” However, in his first three games wearing the purple and gold, the Lakers struggled on the defensive on the floor. After the All-Star break, Lonzo Ball is scheduled to return and expected to be the Lakers’ starting point guard. According to Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated, the Lakers didn’t trade for Thomas to make him part of their long-term plan.
The reason why they made the trade with the Cavaliers was to move Jordan Clarkson’s long-term contract as part of their preparation to sign two maximum-salaried players in free agency. With the presence of Ball and Josh Hart in Los Angeles, the Lakers obviously don’t need Thomas on their team.
Per Sportrac, Isaiah Thomas is currently in the final year of the four-year deal he signed with the Celtics in 2014. With his current performance, it remains a huge question if there will be an NBA team who will offer him a max contract in the 2018 free agency. According to Henry McKenna of The Big Lead, if Thomas wants a huge payday, he should “swallow his pride” and first consider reviving his career with the Celtics.
“Thomas should swallow his pride. He should bury the hatchet with Danny Ainge, who shipped him off to the Cavs. Thomas should put off a long-term deal for a year (or two). He should return to Stevens and the Celtics, and try to win an NBA championship. He should do all that while reinstating himself as one of the league’s elite scorers.”
As McKenna noted, Isaiah Thomas needs the Celtics, and only Celtics head coach Brad Stevens can maximize his effectiveness on the court. Aside from reviving his All-Star form, Thomas can also prove that his hip is 100 percent recovered. This will help him recuperate his value and convince general managers that he deserves to be paid like other superstars.
However, the presence of Kyrie Irving makes Thomas’ potential return to Boston complicated. It remains questionable if the two All-Star guards can coexist, knowing that both of them are ball dominants. Like what he did to Terry Rozier, coach Brad Stevens will be needing to find ways on how to use Thomas with or without Irving.