Isaiah Thomas has made a career out of proving everyone wrong. He was the dead-last 60th pick in the 2011 draft (the one where Kyrie Irving went No. 1), those guys almost never see an NBA game. Thomas proved a fan favorite in Sacramento — he will forever be the Pizza Guy — but the Kings traded him to Phoenix in a salary dump for Alex Oriakhi and a trade exception. The Suns, already with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic on the roster, didn’t have space for Thomas, so he ended up in Boston in a three-team trade. The consensus was he could be a good sixth man for a Boston team on the rise. Instead, he became a fan favorite and last season put together an All-NBA, fifth in the MVP voting season.
So don’t try to tell him this hip injury is going to set him back. We’re looking at you, Cleveland.
“I am not damaged,” Thomas told ESPN on Tuesday. “I’ll be back, and I’ll be the same player….
“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.”
Right now the Celtics and Cavaliers are hammering out potential extra compensation for the Cavaliers as part of the Kyrie Irving trade (which likely will be a second round pick or two). Cleveland’s doctors saw things differently than Boston’s — both seemed to think the labrum tear could heal without surgery, but Cleveland’s doctors seem much more concerned about a re-injury without the surgery to fix underlying issues. (Thomas, understandably, would oppose surgery that would keep him out part of a contract year and raise questions.)
Thomas is one of the better offensive point guards in the NBA right now — and the league is loaded with a golden age of point guards — and he got there in part because of a chip on his shoulder. He uses every slight, every obstacle as fuel. Go ahead and add this to the mix. When he does suit up for Cleveland this season he is going to bring some fire to a team that can put it in cruise control and coast at points in the regular season.
Whether teams will give him max money — or more unlikely, max years — next summer is another question. Thomas may be wearing slides with Brinks trucks on them, but teams are going to be hesitant to fully back the truck up. Which will just add fuel to his fire.