The Cavaliers got so much for Kyrie Irving – Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-rounder – it seemed one of those assets going from the Celtics to Cleveland had to be tainted. Maybe it’s Thomas hip.
Or is it Thomas’ personality?
Chris Broussard of Fox Sports 1:
I spoke to several executives or texted with several executives last night, and a lot of them were saying that a lot of the players in Boston really weren’t that fond of Isaiah. We know he had those problems in Sacramento and in Phoenix. I didn’t know he was having those issues — according to these executives — in Boston.
He is known as a headstrong guy. He’s got a huge ego. They he’s got the Napoleon Complex. He always has that chip on his shoulder.
Once he granted these executives anonymity, Broussard owned their words. It’s on the reporter to verify the veracity before passing them along when it comes to disparaging someone like this.
This isn’t Joe Vardon reporting that people close to LeBron James believe Dwyane Wade will get bought out by the Bulls then sign with the Cavs. Whether or not Wade will actually get bought out then go to Cleveland is beside the point. That LeBron’s camp thinks it will happen is newsworthy in itself.
The executives Broussard cites are so anonymous, we don’t know whether their understanding of Thomas’ relationship with his Celtics teammates is relevant. By citing these anonymous executives, Broussard is staking his credibility on them.
That he’s already distancing himself from their sentiments is telling.
I’m also skeptical given the timing. Player gets smeared on the way out the door? We’ve seen that countless times as teams try to justify a trade after the fact.
A few of Thomas’ former Boston teammates are already sticking up for him.
Evan Turner, via Jared Weiss of Celtics Blog:
“I met IT in high school, we always been tight,” Turner told CelticsBlog after the trade. “The kid has literally acted the same with me since I was 16. I just don’t see how that even comes out. I’ve never known him to be an [expletive] or disliked by anyone. He’s not arrogant or anything. Dude works his [expletive] off.”
“It’s funny that that was ever mentioned. I never heard anyone in any part of life say anything bad about him! Especially as a teammate. He was always there working his [expletive] off before and after practice. That little dude worked! Can’t say anything bad about him.”
Of course, just three of the 24 teammates Thomas had in Boston sticking up for him doesn’t disprove the report. There’s still plenty of room for ‘a lot’ of Celtics to dislike Thomas.
Sure, Thomas can be headstrong. He’s obviously not afraid to tell it how he sees it.
But despite being 5-foot-9 and the last pick in the draft, Thomas has built himself into an All-NBA player. He works relentlessly hard and sets an incredible competitive tone. His admirable career track earns him the right to carry himself with an ego and chip on his shoulder.
If – if – Thomas had Boston teammates whom he rubbed the wrong way, maybe that says more about them than him.