When Danny Ainge traded Marcus Thornton and a draft pick to the Suns for Isaiah Thomas, few regarded it as a franchise-altering deal. Fast forward to 2017, however, and the 5’9″ scoring point guard has made a name for himself as both the Celtics’ most dependable option and perhaps the team-leading star they’re so often said to be seeking.
Even with the addition of Al Horford, who signed a max contract to play in Boston last summer, Thomas has stepped up and carried the team on a regular basis. According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, he’s the biggest source of star power in Beantown since the end of the Big Three era.
Perhaps most interesting about Thomas’ ascent as an All-Star in Boston, however, is his abnormally cheap contract — especially considering the raises that have been doled out in the years since the point guard signed his deal with Phoenix in 2014.
As Washburn explains, Thomas’ contract comes in the form of an extremely team-friendly $6.6M salary, with that value even dropping slightly in 2017/18. He’ll be eligible to sign a contract extension this summer, but a straight extension would only allow for a 20% pay increase, a pittance of what he’d be worth on the open market. If Boston has cap room available, the team could renegotiate the deal, giving Thomas a larger raise.
“It may not be in Thomas’s best interest to sign an extension now,” Washburn adds, “but it’s worth it for the Celtics to begin talks, and it would give Thomas the impression that the organization believes in him long term“.
Worth noting is that Ainge has long been a fan of Thomas’, even before the 2015 trade through which he acquired him. As Thomas told Josue Pavon of WEEI 93.7FM, Ainge was the first executive to come calling during the 2014 free agency period.