With less than a week until the legal tampering period of free agency begins in the NBA, the Celtics have all but sent Kyrie Irving packing from the Auerbach Center. With the anticipated departure of Irving and the potential payday looming for restricted free-agent guard Terry Rozier,the Celtics have been linked to multiple top-tier point guards on the market, namely: Kemba Walker and D’Angelo Russell. While those are the sexy high-profile names that will presumably become available on July 1st, one name in particular that should strike Celtics fans seems to be flying heavily under the radar: Isaiah Thomas.
Approaching the two-year anniversary of the blockbuster trade with Cleveland; Thomas is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Thomas has only appeared in 44 games since the trade due to the well-documented hip injury he suffered in the 2017 playoff run with Celtics. He was benched indefinitely after a brief return with the Denver Nuggets this past season.
Thomas is still searching for the opportunity to re-establish himself as a dominant scorer and an All-Star. Thus, the question: should the Celtics pursue a reunion with Isaiah Thomas?
After a disappointing season full of angst and discord, who better to help re-establish the gritty, chip-on-their-shoulder culture of the Celtics than the player who started it all?
From the moment he arrived in Boston during the 2014-15 season, IT changed the attitude of the team. The Celtics went from the loveable losers with the up and coming coach to never-back-down competitors in the Eastern Conference. It was Thomas’s killer mentality on the floor and his infectious personality off the floor that hastened the team’s planned rebuild faster than Danny Ainge and upper management could have ever imagined.
This type of attitude is what the 2018-2019 Celtics desperately lacked. A leader who demonstrated that type of fire and competitiveness on the floor, but showed composure during difficult times off the court.
Low Risk/High Reward
Thomas is coming off a campaign in which he was paid the veteran’s minimum salary and appeared in only 12 games before being indefinitely benched. This may seem like a deterrent, but let’s not forget that he was recovering from major hip surgery and was thrown into the mix of a team that ultimately threatened the Golden State Warriors for first place in the Western Conference. There is the possibility he never returns to his previous form as a player, and as a result, his current market value is at an all-time low.
For the Celtics, his value is much higher. He’s a player that has proven to fit into the system Brad Stevens has established. He’s beloved by the city of Boston. He was a major piece in recruiting Gordon Hayward and Al Horford during their respective free agencies. He’s established relationships with younger players such as Jaylen Brown, which have proven to not be overly toxic for the team environment. He won’t command maximum salary or contract length in his upcoming contract. Most importantly however, he loves the City of Boston and wanted to be here.
Should the Celtics pursue a reunion with Isaiah Thomas? Indefinitely, yes.