Last week, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics shocked the basketball world with their blockbuster trade sending superstar point guard Kyrie Irving to Boston in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and the Brooklyn Nets first round draft pick next season.
Well, after a week of debating the potential outcomes of this deal, how it might shift the balance of power in the Eastern Conference, and how it might impact LeBron James as he decides where to play in 2018, the deal might not be going through anymore. It turns out that Thomas’s hip injury might be a bit worse than the Celtics let on, and the Cavs are weighing whether or not to move forward and potentially ask for more compensation.
And while the Cavs debate internally on how to move forward, Thomas insists that he’ll be back and better than ever this season.
“I am not damaged,” said Thomas, bluntly. “I’ll be back, and I’ll be the same player…There’s never been an indication that I wouldn’t be back, and there’s never been an indication that this is something messing up my career. Maybe I am not going to be back as soon this season as everyone wants me to be, but I’m going to be back, and I’m going to be the same player again. No doctor has told me anything different than that.”
In the spirit of complete transparency, Thomas continued to spill all the beans on his injury, putting everything out on the table.
“I haven’t had one doctor tell me that this injury is going to hurt my career,” said Thomas. “Surgery was not the best option in this case. I aggravated it in March when Karl-Anthony Towns fell on me. I kept playing on it and making it worse—until I couldn’t play anymore last season.”
While Thomas sounds ready to get started with the Cavs, the organization continues to hold up the process.
“I don’t know what [the team] is doing,” said Thomas. “It’s out of my control. I just want to talk about what I can control, and I know that this won’t be a problem into the future.”
It makes sense why Thomas wants a chance to play with the Cavs this season. While he’s leaving behind a great Celtics team (which, more than likely also has longevity compared to the Cavaliers), Thomas has a chance to win instantly with LeBron this season. He didn’t choose to be traded, but he can do his best to win before James leaves. And, according to Thomas, his doctor is ready to see him back on the court.
“He told me, ‘I have seen hips worse than yours with guys who played at a high level and had great careers,’” said Thomas. “At the moment, yes, I am injured, but I have made progress from May.”
Thomas wants to prove that he’s healthy and worth the money as he comes up on a contract year. Durant wants to see Kyrie leave the Cavs, furthering opening the window for his Warriors to go back to back.
“It’s a perfect system for him in Boston,” said Durant. “It’s a perfect fit. Because he’s a 6’3 Isaiah Thomas, basically, and Isaiah just thrived in that system, and then he got Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, who are gonna be able to make plays for him, too. It’s gonna be pretty sweet. I think it was a great deal.”
Normally—granted, I’m generalizing here—but normally, when your opponent applauds a trade or offseason move of yours, it’s not a good move. If Durant is excited to see Irving leaving the Cavaliers, maybe the Cavs should think twice about letting him go.
Then again, that would be tough because the trade request came from Irving himself. Which, is another reason why Durant is being supportive. He knows a thing or two about making an unpopular offseason decision.
“I can really appreciate what he did,” continued Durant. “He stood up for himself, he showed a lot of courage, man, because it’s hard to take that type of criticism. When you just want to play ball. I feel him on that.”
Of course, compared to what Durant did, Kyrie Irving’s trade request looks like he and the Cavs organization and fans are skipping through a field of flowers while holding hands. Durant pissed a few more people off.
So, while the Cavs and Celtics are reportedly not speaking any further right now, the Cavs need to make the next move. Either sign the deal, ask for more, or find another trade partner. I don’t think Irving will like it if you pull him back in after he was inches away from freedom.