Isaiah Thomas would ‘love’ to play for Celtics again, but it reportedly won’t happen


Isaiah Thomas will forever be a part of Boston Celtics history. Before a career-changing hip injury and the infamous Kyrie Irving trade, Thomas put together one of the most masterful offensive seasons of this era. In 2016-17, the last season that the Celtics made the conference finals, the 5-foot-9 point guard averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists with a usage rate of 34.0 percent and a true shooting percentage of 62.5 percent. 

It was a truly legendary run. He dominated the offense more than ever before, but had the lowest turnover rate of his career. He scored efficiently from deep, in the midrange and at the rim. He not only averaged a ridiculous 9.8 points in the fourth quarter, but he got more efficient in the final frame, despite the opposing defense knowing he was going to try to take over every time. 

Thomas was beloved in Boston even before that season, in which he finished fifth in MVP voting and made the All-NBA second team. It’s worth remembering that version of Thomas, though, in light of what’s happening now: The point guard is a free agent, and while the Celtics are monitoring the buyout market, signing him is not an option, according to the Boston Globe‘s Adam Himmelsbach. 

In an interview with HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy, Thomas said he doesn’t think about how his career would have gone if he hadn’t played through his hip injury for Boston in the 2017 playoffs. He has not been the same player since, though, particularly when it comes to getting to the rim and finishing. As a result, rather than cashing in on his ascension to star status, he has only signed minimum contracts. 

In that same interview, Thomas said that he’d be happy to play for the Celtics again. 

“I hold no grudges, and they know that,” Thomas told HoopsHype. “I have genuine love for the city of Boston. If that were to happen, I’d love to be part of what they have going on. You never know. I’m always open for any opportunity to be in the NBA and play the game that I love at the highest level. If that opportunity presents itself, for sure. Time has passed.”

In a bit of cruel irony, the love Celtics fans have for Thomas might be one of the reasons this reunion remains wishful thinking. If they were to sign him, it would be a massive local story, even if the team made it clear that he was essentially an insurance policy in case Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart or Brad Wanamaker get injured in the playoffs. Late in blowouts at TD Garden, fans would chant for Thomas instead of (or as well as) Tacko Fall. I doubt anyone in Boston is concerned that Thomas would ruin the team’s harmonious season, but signing him would be more complicated than not signing him. 

Thomas told HoopsHype that he knows he can still help a team win playoff games, and he’d love to sign with a contender. At 31, he is still confident that he can contribute as long as he is given an opportunity. You don’t make the league at his size without extreme self-belief, and you certainly don’t go from being the last pick of the second round to being an All-NBA player without it, either. After his stints with the Cavaliers, Lakers, Nuggets and Wizards, though, it is difficult to make the case that a team like the Celtics should guarantee him minutes. And seeing him at the end of their bench would be weird. 

Back in November, Thomas told The Athletic’s Fred Katz that he wants “to be somewhere I can be three or four years.” That was likely never going to be Washington, even though he shot a career-high 41.3 percent from 3-point range in 40 games there. It might not be his next stop, either, but Thomas has promised that he will stay patient, as he tries to get his body to a place where it can do all the brilliant things he used to do. There would be no better story than that happening in Boston, but, sadly, the timing is not right. 





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