Isaiah Thomas‘ hip has caused a holding pattern that could play a big part in deciding the fate of the Eastern Conference, but the league’s No. 3 scorer last season insists he’s not damaged goods and will return as the same player.
“I am not damaged,” Thomas told ESPN on Tuesday. “I’ll be back, and I’ll be the same player.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics executed a seminal trade that will send Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the coveted Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for Kyrie Irving. But reports out of Cleveland are less than thrilling about Thomas’ physical, and it’s caused a delay while the Cavs debate how to proceed.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reports the Cavs and Celtics discussed options about moving forward with this trade on Tuesday, and the longtime NBA insider reports Cleveland is no longer asking Boston for Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown to be added to this deal. Instead, Wojnarowski reports the Celtics’ 2018 first-round pick or a second-round selection being added to the swap could satisfy the Cavaliers.
That is quite a step down from initial reports that the Cavaliers wanted one of the Celts’ recent No. 3 overall picks, but it could be a sign Thomas’ status is being viewed more optimistically. Thomas said he has made progress since May.
“There’s never been an indication that I wouldn’t be back, and there’s never been an indication that this is something messing up my career,” Thomas told ESPN. “Maybe I am not going to be back as soon this season as everyone wants me to be, but I’m going to be back, and I’m going to be the same player again. No doctor has told me anything different than that.
“I haven’t had one doctor tell me that this injury is going to hurt my career. Surgery was not the best option in this case. I aggravated it in March when Karl-Anthony Towns fell on me. I kept playing on it, and making it worse — until I couldn’t play anymore last season.”
The 28-year-old Thomas averaged a career-best 28.9 points per game and finished as a second-team all-NBA team member. Irving has never made an all-NBA team, but being three years younger made him the focal point of the deal. If the trade is rescinded, it would obviously affect relationships on both sides and could hurt both teams.
Cleveland signed Derrick Rose this offseason, and while it initially was believed he’d be the backup to Irving, now it looks like the former MVP will back up Thomas but begin the season as the Cavs starting point guard.