Isaiah Thomas was better than Kyrie Irving last regular season.
If Thomas maintains that advantage next postseason, the Cavaliers – whose championship window is open with LeBron James – will be massive winners in their trade with the Celtics. But that’s uncertain given Thomas being three years older, six inches shorter and far more injured than Irving.
The age and size difference are known quantities. The status of Thomas’ hip is not.
So, that became the obvious discussion point at Cleveland’s press conference to introduce Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic.
Isaiah, how is your hip? Isaiah, what’s your timetable? Isaiah, what can you do right now? Isiah, when did you know you tore your labrum?
“I don’t want this to be the Isaiah Thomas hip press conference,” Cavs general manager Koby Altman interjected. “So, I’m just going to – with all due respect – shut down the hip questions. If we’re going to talk about Isaiah, let’s talk about Isaiah the All-Star.”
But will the Cavaliers ever get Isaiah the All-Star? If so, when?
“Isaiah’s not going to be starting the season,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue let slip when asked to compare Thomas to Irving.
It was tough watching Altman battle Thomas-hip questions, which barely relented despite the general manager’s decree, when Cleveland extracted an extra second-rounder from Boston due to Thomas’ physical and Thomas himself declared he wouldn’t lose a step. The Cavs can’t simply dismiss this as an issue not worthy of discussing.
Altman said surgery wasn’t in the cards – “Y’all hear that?” Thomas added. “Everybody want to be doctors now” – and that the the Cavaliers wouldn’t rush anything. But Altman wouldn’t even disclose whether a private timeline exists, going only as far as saying the goal is for Thomas to return “at some point this year.”
It’s a big season for everyone involved, with free agency for Thomas and LeBron looming. Hopefully, the Cavs have a firmer grasp on the situation than they revealed today.