Last season’s trade to the Celtics helped Isaiah Thomas blossom into an All-Star candidate, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Thomas was an effective sixth man in Phoenix before the deal, averaging 15.2 points and 3.7 assists as part of a three-guard rotation with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. But he has blossomed this season in Boston, boosting his averages to 21.6 points and 6.7 assists while keeping the Celtics in the playoff race. “He’s a terrific player,” said Suns GM Ryan McDonough. “He’s having a heck of a year. I wish we could’ve got him to accept his role better or utilized him better ourselves. In retrospect, those three guys – Bledsoe, Dragic and Thomas – all being in their 20s and all having All-Star aspirations made it challenging. With their sizes, you couldn’t play all three together a lot and they were all starting-caliber players who deserved to play and had a lot of success in the league.”
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- The Celtics sent guard Terry Rozier and forward Jordan Mickey to their Maine affiliate in the D-League, the team tweeted today.
- Grizzlies forward Matt Barnes implies that he had the support of at least one Knicks player in his altercation with New York coach Derek Fisher, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Barnes was suspended for two games for his actions in the fight with Fisher, which took place in October at the home of Barnes’ estranged wife. “It’s been great — my teammates, organization, other guys throughout the league, people from his team, people from other sports, people from the entertainment world,’’ Barnes said. “I’ve gotten a lot of support throughout the whole situation.”
- Sixers coach Brett Brown has been impressed by the working relationship between GM Sam Hinkie and chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Since Colangelo was hired last month, the Sixers have hired Mike D’Antoni as associate head coach, traded for Ish Smith and signed veteran Elton Brand. “There’s another way to see where we are at,” Brown said, “and different [eyes] coming in and making clean assessments about where we are at.”