The Brinks truck is not backing up to Isaiah Thomas‘ door this summer. At least not like he had hoped.
It’s hard to come up with an NBA player whose value has fallen as fast in a calendar year as Thomas. Last year at this time he was on his way to finishing fifth in the MVP voting, being an All-NBA player, and leading the Celtics into the postseason as the No. 1 seed. Now — after a season where he played in just 32 games due to a hip injury that ultimately required surgery, a year where he was traded twice and came off as a malcontent in Cleveland — his stock is down. He helped it some with his play as a Laker, but the hip surgery will make teams cautious.
Thomas said the surgery fixed his hip issue, and he is not worried about free agency, he told Bill Oram of the Orange County Register.
“I just feel like it was the right decision to do this to fix the problem,” Thomas said, “which I never solely fixed. I just tried to let it heal on his own and I think I did the best I possibly could while doing that.
“Now the problem is fixed and (I’m on) the road back to 100 percent.”
“The results will show that the surgery only fixed it,” he said. “The world knew that I never got my labrum fixed when I was going through that and trying to heal on my own. … The decision that I made it felt like it was the best decision for me personally, individually, as a basketball player for the rest of my career.”
In what will be a very tight market for free agents, Thomas is not going to find a max contract, or anything in that ballpark. He will find teams offering shorter term deals — one or two years — because they want to see if Thomas after the surgery can play close to the Thomas before the surgery. If he takes a one-year deal (or one+one) with the Lakers or elsewhere and proves he is close to his former self — and it doesn’t need to be last year in Boston Thomas, just the Sacramento-level Thomas — he will get paid big in 2019 (when the market opens up).
A lot of teams calling Thomas are going to ask him about being a sixth man, playing the Lou Williams/Jamal Crawford gunner off the bench role. Thomas has resisted that. If he opens his mind, however, he also opens up his possibilities.