When the Cavaliers did their own physical and saw Isaiah Thomas‘ injury could have him missing part of the season, and may be more prone to re-injury, they went back and asked for more in their trade with the Celtics. They got it, credit Dan Gilbert for that (deserved or not).
Did that injury news also dampen LeBron James and Tyronn Lue’s interest in the deal?
One league source with an understanding of Cleveland’s situation told me that as news spread throughout the organization that Thomas could miss time deep into the upcoming season, James and Lue cooled on the deal. According to the same source, both the Cavs’ franchise player and their head coach were apparently told by upper management that Thomas and Crowder were being brought in to help the team compete with the Warriors now.
The real question has been “when will Thomas return?” Always has been. There isn’t an answer to that, yet. While Thomas has pushed back against the idea he would be anything less than his peak self, even before this trade Brad Stevens was saying they needed to see an early September scan before getting an idea of IT’s return.
LeBron and Lue will deny this is true Even if it is true, they will come around.
The thing is, even if Thomas were out until Christmas, it doesn’t really change much the Cavaliers. Their season starts in mid-April — they need to be healthy and right for the playoffs. That’s what matters. So long as LeBron is healthy the Cavaliers are a top two seed in the East in the regular season, then in mid-April the season they will be judged on begins.
Cleveland got more than it should have expected out of this trade. The Cavs got the Brooklyn Nets 2018 first round pick that helps set them up for the future (with or without LeBron). They got a quality “3&D” guy in Jae Crowder. They got a prospect to develop but with potential in Ante Zizic. Then they added a second round pick. This was a good deal for the Cavaliers.
LeBron and Lue can see that.