Is Isaiah Thomas Going to Return to Boston?
The dust has pretty much settled on another hectic offseason, with most of the big names having signed with teams already. However, one of the names that is still on the market is none other than Isaiah Thomas. The former fan-favorite was rumored to be close to a contract with the Orlando Magic last week, but all is quiet on that front. Then, Isaiah Thomas commented this on NBC Sports Boston’s Post:
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) July 11, 2018
The question has to be asked: could Isaiah Thomas be coming back?
Before Danny Ainge shipped out Thomas in the Kyrie Irving deal, he was one of the most beloved Boston athletes in a long time. The point guard averaged 29 points per game in his last season in Boston, and had an unforgettable playoff run after the tragic death of his sister. It goes without saying that many Celtics fans would love to see him in green again.
He was far less successful in Cleveland and Los Angeles, but keep in mind he would be returning to play under Brad Stevens. If anyone can return Thomas to his former glory, it would be this coach. He wouldn’t be starting as long as Kyrie Irving is still present, but he could provide a major scoring boost off the bench. It also provides an opportunity to trade Terry Rozier as part of a package to net a big-name player. If Marcus Smart signs elsewhere this offseason, Thomas can also serve as the replacement to him.
The other great thing about signing Thomas is that it likely wouldn’t break the bank. Last season saw the point guard’s value drop drastically, and while that’s unfortunate for him, it’s great news for the team. Thomas would be more apt to sign a team-friendly contract, which is necessary if the cash-strapped Celtics are going to bring him aboard. This could potentially be a huge signing towards a title run.
However, there are multiple concerns regarding Thomas potentially returning. First and foremost, his health. His hip injury nagged him throughout the entirety of last season. It’s safe to say it’s still an issue for any team looking to sign him. The Celtics already have a point guard in Kyrie that isn’t the healthiest player in the world, and bringing aboard another injury-prone guard could prove disastrous.
There is also the issue of Thomas’ severed relationship with Danny Ainge. Though Isaiah said previously that he and Ainge had resolved their differences, there was open hostility immediately following his departure. Fans have to wonder if there are still hurt feelings. Pride could also be a problem- remember when he told Boston to “bring out the Brinks truck”? It’s unclear whether Thomas would be able to swallow his pride and take a reduced role-and much less money-to sign in Boston.
Finally, there’s the issue of an overcrowded backcourt. If Marcus Smart is eventually resigned, then the Celtics will have four point guards with the addition of Thomas. The team has made it clear that they are high on Rozier. If Marcus Smart resigns, there must be a role for him as well. Where would Thomas fit into that scheme? He’s also an obvious defensive liability, as fans learned during his time here. Would it be worth it to sacrifice the defense for some scoring? There’s upside to signing the 29-year-old, but there are also a lot of question marks.
The Bottom Line
Obviously, bringing back Thomas is a high-risk, high-reward situation. There’s clearly some issues surrounding his arrival. With the team declaring Smart their top priority this offseason, it’s unlikely that Thomas comes to town again. However, he’s already proven that he’s a top point guard in the league when he’s healthy. It’s likely that the majority of Boston fans would be thrilled to see him return. It may be a long shot, but it could be time to break out those green number four jerseys once again.