Isaiah Thomas — the cornerstone of the Boston Celtics’ offense, an All-NBA player who averaged 28.9 points per game last season — will make $6.3 million next season. Which by NBA standards is an absolute steal. Thomas has never made more than $7.2 million for a season and has career earnings after last season of $22.9 million.
Next summer Thomas is a free agent, and he wants to get PAID. As in he could make more in the 2018-19 season than he had in his career up to that point. He told CSNNE.com’s A. Sherrod Blakely it’s time for Boston to make things right.
“I’m a max guy. I deserve the max… my time is coming, they know they’ve got to bring the Brinks truck.”
The max for Thomas would be five years at around $172 million, starting at about $30 million a year (we don’t know the exact numbers because we don’t know next year’s salary cap number, but it is expected to be similar to this year’s). For most All-NBA players, that’s not even a question, they get maxed out, but Thomas could be different.
Boston is not going to want to go five years, maybe not even four. Thomas will be 29 at the time, and the history of undersized players in the NBA suggests that when their skills start to fall off the decline happens fast. Combine that with all the money Boston is now spending to bring in Gordon Hayward and the fact Marcus Smart needs to get paid next summer as well, and Boston may be looking for a deal, reports Zach Lowe of ESPN.
The Celtics are eyeing all of this, confident they can retain Thomas on a deal well below his max.
Could Boston get Thomas on a three-year, $80 million contract? That is below the max and a reasonable number of years, plus Thomas makes a lot of money. Would he go for it? He’s a free agent, other teams could jump in, although next year’s free agent market is expected to be very tight, with only a handful of teams having max contract money, and those teams will be targeting other guys (LeBron James, Paul George, Russell Westbrook) before Thomas. It’s hard to picture a team coming in with a four-year offer at the max, but it only takes one.
Thomas’ free agency is a year away, and that’s a lifetime in the NBA. Next summer, things could look quite different for Thomas and the Celtics, but his free agency is going to be something to watch.