Isaiah Thomas‘ hip injury has cast doubts on when he will be able to contribute to the Cavaliers this upcoming season. LeBron James and head coach Tyronn Lue reportedly “cooled” on the acquisition of Thomas after learning that he may miss the start of the regular season and possibly be out until after the All-Star break, according to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor.
Thomas himself has a more positive outlook. Speaking to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski before the Celtics and Cavaliers completed their blockbuster trade, Thomas proclaimed he is “not damaged” and promised he would return to last year’s form — where he averaged an Eastern Conference-best 28.9 PPG.
“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,” he said. “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.”
If Thomas misses that much time, Cleveland’s signing of former NBA Most Valuable Player, Derrick Rose, becomes that much more important. Rose, 28, spent 2016/17 with the Knicks and while off court issues plagued most of his season, he was a productive asset, averaging 18.0 PPG and 4.4 APG. Hindered by injury for most of his career, Rose underwent surgery for a torn meniscus — his fourth knee surgery — in April but is expected to be ready for training camp.
Cleveland signed Rose to a one-year, $2.1MM deal — the veteran’s minimum. The same player who spent the last two years saying he will seek a maximum contract (which would have been worth approximately $150MM) will make less in 2017/18 than Ron Baker — his backup in New York last season. Yet, much like his new teammate Thomas, Rose is confident about what he will do in a Cavs uniform.
“When I get on a good team and I’m still hooping the same way, what are you going to say then?” Rose said to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press. “The only thing that you’ll can say is that I can still play.”
If Rose can still play at the level of last season, Cleveland will have a more than adequate stopgap if Thomas is not ready to begin the year. Conversely, unless Rose somehow recaptures his 2011 MVP form, he will be a significant downgrade from the departed Kyrie Irving.
Either way, Rose will have the opportunity to prove with his play that he’s worth more than the undrafted rookie who was his backup in free agency.
With all of that said: Do you think Rose will be a key part of the Cavaliers next season? If he plays well in Thomas’ absence, should he retain the starters role? Will his body be able to hold up? Will Thomas come back healthy and keep Rose on the bench?