After the Toronto Raptors traded DeMar DeRozan, Isaiah Thomas gave his reaction on Twitter, reminding his fellow NBA players that “loyalty is just a word in this game.” Like DeRozan, Thomas was also a victim of loyalty last offseason when the Boston Celtics decided to trade him despite playing through a hip injury to help them return to the Eastern Conference finals. During the 2016-17 regular season, Thomas was a strong candidate for the Most Valuable Player award where he averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists on 46.3 percent shooting from the field and 37.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Instead of asking for a massive contract extension, Isaiah Thomas decided to postpone having a huge payday to give the Celtics the salary cap flexibility to go after their target free agents. Playing through a hip injury and not demanding a lucrative deal were undeniably the worse decisions Thomas ever made in his entire NBA career. If he made a different decision, Thomas could have been one of the highest-paid players in the league right now.
However, as of now, the only thing Thomas can do is move on. Based on his recent interview with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the 29-year-old point guard doesn’t seem to have any regret or hold a grudge against the Celtics. Before he signed a veteran minimum deal with the Denver Nuggets, Woj revealed that Thomas called Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge.
In his conversation with Ainge that reportedly lasted for 15 to 20 minutes, Thomas expressed his desire to rejoin the Celtics. Unfortunately, during those times, the Celtics were still having a contract negotiation with Marcus Smart, who recently signed four-year, $52 million to return to Boston.
“Ainge says his mind was open to the idea, but the Celtics needed to work through Marcus Smart’s restricted-free-agency discussions before they could consider making an offer to Thomas. Ainge was willing to continue the conversation, but Thomas accepted the Nuggets’ offer before Boston had reached its new deal with Smart.”
Celtics’ fans will surely love the idea of having Isaiah Thomas back to their team. However, it remains questionable if Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens could give him a decent playing time, knowing they already have Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Smart to play as point guards next season. Thomas isn’t expected to be a starter in Denver, but Nuggets Head Coach Michael Malone could give him more opportunity to prove himself once again in the league. The 2018-19 NBA season will be crucial for Thomas as it will determine his value in the 2019 free agency.