Isaiah Thomas

Celtics Notes: Smart, Irving, Morris, Thomas, McCarty

As indicated in previous stories, Marcus Smart is expected to miss about six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. The plan is for Smart to return to action should the Celtics make it to the second round of the playoffs and, per Chris Forsberg of ESPN, Smart is supremely confident that he will be able to return this postseason.

“I am confident [I’ll be back for the playoffs],” Smart said Monday night. “I had one of the top [hand] doctors do it. The surgery was a success… I’m real, real, real excited and eager to get back out there, whenever that is, hopefully it’s sooner than later, like I said. Hopefully the team can and, like I think they’re gonna do, is handle their business and have me back [in the postseason].”

Smart originally thought his injury was only a sprain, and even after further testing revealed more extensive ligament damage, he weighed non-surgical treatment options before finally deciding on having the surgery when doctors told him he risked further complications that might force him out of action for a longer period of time should he have tried to play before undergoing the procedure.

“The first [thing] was could I damage it any more?” Smart said. “When we went to get the second opinion, they said the same thing: The ligament is torn completely. There’s nothing else you can do. Then there was, ‘OK, could I possibly play with it and get the surgery afterwards?’ That came into play and when she said — the doctor pretty much said, ‘If it was me, I would get this now. The longer you wait, the harder it [will be] and cause more complications. So just get it over with and then there’s a possibility you could be back sooner than you thought.'”

There’s more out of Boston:

  • All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving plans on obtaining a second opinion later this week for his ailing left knee, tweets Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.
  • Marcus Morris was fined $15K for “verbal abuse of a game official,” it was announced today by the NBA. The incident occurred at the conclusion of the Celtics’ 19-point loss to New Orleans on Sunday.
  • Former Celtic and soon-to-be free agent guard Isaiah Thomas is willing to return to Boston next season, reports NBC Sports Boston. Asked on Twitter whether he would consider a reunion this offseason, Thomas tweeted, “Anything can happen.”
  • Celtics assistant coach and former player Walter McCarty will interview for the head coaching vacancy at the University of Evansville, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Born and raised in Evansville, IN, McCarty is looking to become a head coach for the first time after also having spent time as an assistant at the University of Louisville and with the Pacers.

Pacific Notes: Thomas, Rivers, Williams, Thornwell, Evans

Isaiah Thomas has made it clear that he sees himself as a starter and not a reserve player, the role he has occupied since he was traded to the Lakers. The Lakers will have ample cap space this summer with the intention of luring at least two top free agents. Unless the Lakers want to start Thomas alongside Lonzo Ball, it’s unlikely that Thomas re-signs with Los Angeles.

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report opines that while a Thomas reunion with the Lakers is unlikely, it should not be ruled out. LeBron James and Paul George will be the Lakers’ top two targets; James and Thomas were teammates for 15 games in Cleveland this season. If James decides to sign with the Lakers, Thomas re-signing likely becomes more unlikely, Pincus writes.

“Of course, if Thomas insists he’s a starter and will only re-sign on that contingency, the Lakers would presumably need to start him alongside Ball,” Pincus writes. “If George and Ingram are forwards, perhaps [Julius] Randle slides over to start at center.”

Starting two point guards — including a 29-year-old coming off an injury-riddled season — does not sound like something the Lakers would prefer.

Check out more Pacific Division notes below:

  • Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was fined $15K for criticizing the officials in the team’s loss to the Rockets on Thursday, per ESPN. Rivers was critical of the referees’ lack of calls for his team.
  • Sindarius Thornwell and Jawun Evans were prepared for the G League this season and were not expecting significant minutes with the Clippers. A rash of injuries have given Thornwell and Evans key roles, in which they have excelled, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes.
  • Suns big man Alan Williams was assigned to the G League’s Northern Arizona Suns this week. However, he will not play for the NBA team until he gets into a game with the G League affiliate, which is expected on Wednesday, tweets Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports.

Lakers Notes: Thomas, Randle, LeBron

After missing the first half of the 2017/18 season with a hip injury and struggling to find his groove in Cleveland, Isaiah Thomas has looked better in his last couple weeks with the Lakers, averaging nearly 20 PPG in March. That comes as no surprise to the veteran point guard, who continues to come off the bench most games for L.A., but tells Sam Amick of USA Today that he’s “no sixth man.”

“I won’t be a sixth man (in the future). I just want everybody to know that, like clear as can be,” Thomas said. “I’m a two-time All-Star and a starter who has done things that a lot of people in this league haven’t done (when) given that opportunity.”

Head coach Luke Walton acknowledges that Thomas has probably earned a starting spot based on his career résumé, but tells Amick that the Lakers are “in a unique situation.” With Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. no longer on the roster, the team needed a leader for its second unit, and Walton challenged Thomas to be that leader. For now, Thomas is on board with that plan, though he’s still looking forward to a time when he’s 100% healthy and when he’s given the chance to be the kind of player he was with the Celtics.

“My body’s feeling better. It’s just – it’s going to take time to get back to that level, but also – which I tell people – my opportunity is not the same as it was when I was in Boston,” Thomas said. “Even when I was in Cleveland, it wasn’t the same as it was in Boston, so you can’t expect me to go out and average 30 points when I’m not given that same opportunity. If that opportunity comes back, and when it does – because I know it will – I promise you: I’ll be more than ready to take advantage of that opportunity, and be back on top.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Thomas and Julius Randle got into a shouting match on the Lakers’ bench during Wednesday’s loss to Golden State and had to be separated. However, the two players downplayed the incident after the game and Walton suggested that he has no problem with two “passionate” people arguing, as long as they “get it figured out,” according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Both players will be free agents this summer.
  • While LeBron James has long been considered the Lakers’ top target in 2018 free agency, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report wonders if James is the right long-term fit for a young Lakers team.
  • As part of a series focusing on lottery-bound teams, David Yapkowitz of Basketball Insiders explains how he would “fix” the Lakers.
  • Earlier today, I identified seven wild cards to take into account when determining how much cap room the Lakers will actually have this offseason.

L.A. Notes: LeBron, Lakers, Gallinari, Thornwell

James’ recent purchase of a house in the Los Angeles area won’t affect his decision, Heisler claims, and neither will the chance to play with a young core made up of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle and Lonzo Ball. Unless the Lakers can convince James that his presence would make them an instant contender, they’ll be a long shot to bring him to L.A.
There’s more NBA news out of Los Angeles:
  • With the playoffs slipping out of reach, the Lakers will spend the rest of this season deciding which free agents they want to keep, states Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. With only five players under contract for 2018/19, Brook Lopez, Isaiah Thomas and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be among those auditioning for jobs, as will Channing Frye if he returns after an appendectomy.
  • Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari will have his right hand examined next week to determine if he needs surgery, tweets Tomer Azarly of Clutch Points. Gallinari added that swelling and discoloration in the hand have subsided since he suffered a non-displaced fracture late last month. Gallinari is averaging 15.9 points per night, but has been limited to 19 games by a variety of injuries.
  • Rookie Clippers guard Sindarius Thornwell made his first start in nearly three months Friday and responded with a career-high 14 points in a win over the Cavaliers, notes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Thornwell’s playing time had slipped as the team tried out two-way guards C.J. Williams and Tyrone Wallace, but he was ready when coach Doc Rivers called on him to match up with James. “I guess it’s just Doc’s way of seeing if I’m ready to play,” Thornwell said. “He just wants to see if I’m focused and locked in. But my starts are always on somebody tough.”

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Osman, Teletovic, Payne

Today will bring the Cavaliers’ first look at Isaiah Thomas since trading him to the Lakers last month, notes Joe Vardon of Thomas became a scapegoat for all that went wrong in Cleveland through the first half of this season. He was expected to take the place of Kyrie Irving as one of the centerpieces of the deal with the Celtics, but a lingering hip injury, poor shooting and a questionable effort on defense caused the Cavs to unload him as part of a roster makeover at the deadline.

There weren’t many people in Cleveland who were sad to see Thomas leave, but former teammate Jeff Green still maintains a relationship with him.

“I wanted him to do well,” Green said. “I watched him from his early on days in Sacramento and Phoenix. And what he did in Boston was remarkable for that organization, and I wanted him to succeed. I wanted him to get what he deserves, and also, that max deal and being on a winning team and winning a championship. But, you know, it didn’t happen, it didn’t work out, and I’m still rooting for him to do well. Just not against us.”

There’s more news from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman will be sidelined for about two weeks with a left hip flexor strain, the team announced on its website. An MRI confirmed the damage Saturday after the injury forced him out of Friday’s game with the Clippers.
  • The Bucks will have to wait until November to petition the league for salary cap relief involving Mirza Teletovic, writes Matt Velasquez of The Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee can seek to have the $10.5MM Teletovic will make next season removed from its cap because of a medically induced retirement. However, the team must wait a year from the last game he played, which was November 7. Teletovic had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee later that month, which is when doctors discovered blood clots in his lungs.
  • Bulls guard Cameron Payne is trying to erase the negative perception that many Chicago fans have after his poor play last season, relays K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Payne was a disappointment in 11 games after being acquired from the Thunder, then was sidelined until February 22 of this season following foot surgery. “I think I’ve played well,” Payne said. “Obviously I had a couple bad shooting days. But I feel the second unit has been playing pretty good. But we’re not winning so it really doesn’t matter.”

Isaiah Thomas On Free Agency: Just Need ‘One Team To Love You’

After finishing fifth in MVP voting last season, Isaiah Thomas has endured a disastrous 2017/18. Having been traded from the Celtics to the Cavaliers to the Lakers, Thomas has battled a hip injury and has seen his stock slip precipitously over the course of the season. Nonetheless, he’s remaining optimistic about his upcoming free agency, saying today that “all you need is one team to love you,” as ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk relays.

“It’s like the draft all over again. You just need one team,” Thomas said. “My résumé speaks for itself. What I can do on the basketball floor speaks for itself. I can’t do nothing but control what I can control, and that is taking advantage of any opportunity that I am given and playing my heart out. But come July, I got to weigh my options to do what is best for myself and my family.”

A year ago, when he was still a relatively healthy Celtic, Thomas spoke about the possibility of a maximum-salary contract, suggesting that Boston would need to “bring the Brinks truck out.” As the 2018 offseason nears, the idea of that sort of mega-deal seems far-fetched.

After averaging 28.9 PPG and 5.9 APG on .463/.379/.909 shooting in 2016/17, Thomas has seen those numbers slip to 14.3 PPG, 4.5 APG, and .369/.269/.899 in 21 games this season. While that drop-off can be attributed – at least in part – to his hip problems, that injury itself is a red flag for teams considering investing in the 29-year-old this summer. Still, Thomas believes he’s capable of returning to his previous form.

“It is, ‘What have you done for me lately?'” Thomas said. “That is the league that we are in and I understand that. But if I am given the same opportunity that I was given in Boston, I would do the same thing and that is just what it is. They’ll [people who have forgotten what Thomas can do] come back around, I am positive about that.”

As Youngmisuk notes, most NBA teams won’t have much – or any – cap space this summer, and many of those that will have space already have talented point guards on their rosters. As such, Thomas’ options in free agency figure to be limited. As Thomas himself observes, it would only take one team to put a big offer on the table, but Youngmisuk suggests a lucrative, J.J. Redick-esque one-year contract may be the best Thomas can hope for, unless he’s willing to go the mid-level route for a multiyear deal.

Cavaliers Notes: Thomas, LeBron, Hill, Leonard

Isaiah Thomas believes the Cavaliers panicked when they sent him to the Lakers as part of a flurry of deals at the trade deadline, according to an ESPN story. Thomas, who was acquired from the Celtics in the offseason, played just 15 games for the Cavs before being sent to L.A.

“It was a tough situation I was being put in,” Thomas said. “It was — it was different. … It’s hard to get acclimated to a team halfway through the season. People don’t put in there that we had eight or nine new players. So it was basically a brand new team. … I’m in a new system. New team, new coach, new players. And then I’ve been off for seven months. So I got to get — individually, I got to for the most part get my rhythm back, get my timing back.”

Thomas, who will be a free agent this summer, said he has no hard feelings about his time in Cleveland and he is concentrating on his future with his new team. He added that he plans to “play my heart out and show the Lakers why I should be here long term.”

There’s more out of Cleveland:

  • LeBron James was revitalized by the trades because he knew he wouldn’t have to share the ball anymore with Thomas or Dwyane Wade, writes Terry Pluto of He adds that James prefers to control as much as he can, both on and off the court, and now has the freedom to initiate the offense any time he wants. Pluto has noticed a difference in James’ play and his on-court demeanor since he found out the trades were coming on the night before the deadline.
  • The addition of George Hill and Larry Nance Jr. has provided the defensive spark the Cavaliers needed, writes Joe Vardon of The Cavs turned in one of their best performances of the season Saturday, holding the Grizzlies to 89 points while registering 13 steals and 35 points off 23 turnovers. “Obviously G. Hill’s hands, Larry’s length and athleticism allows us to kind of keep everything at bay,” James said. “Our league is all pick and roll. So when you’ve got a point guard and a center that can play two on two and the other three can kind of stay at bay, it helps out everybody.”
  • The Cavaliers would be very interested if the Spurs decide to part with star forward Kawhi Leonard, writes Sam Amico of AmicoHoops. Leonard reportedly has a strained relationship with the organization related to his lingering quad injury. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed this week that Leonard has been medically cleared to play, but is choosing to sit out until the pain subsides. Amico speculates that Cleveland would be willing to give up the unprotected pick it owns from Brooklyn as the centerpiece of a deal for Leonard.

L.A. Notes: Bradley, Clippers, Thomas, Ball

As the Clippers headed to Phoenix for Friday night’s game against the Suns, Avery Bradley stayed behind in Los Angeles to receive treatment on a sports hernia injury that has nagged at him for much of the season, per Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. The Clippers, who could have used Bradley on defense during Thursday’s 134-127 loss to Golden State, aren’t sure exactly when the veteran guard will return to action.

“We are concerned,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “We’ve got to go through the right stuff and make sure he’s in a good place with his health. I think we’re going to send him to a doctor and let him check and see.”

Here’s more out of Los Angles on both the Clippers and Lakers:

  • The Clippers currently have one opening on their 15-man roster, which would allow the team to give a full-fledged roster spot to one of its two-way players. However, it’s not clear whether Tyrone Wallace or C.J. Williams would be first in line for that spot, as both players are expected to receive consideration, according to Turner. “Hopefully we can get something resolved pretty soon,” Rivers said. “We just got to figure out what we’re going to do. We may be able to sign one.”
  • With the Lakers focusing on developing younger players and Isaiah Thomas in need of a showcase before he hits free agency, the union between the two doesn’t exactly look like a marriage made in heaven, writes Rob Mahoney of Still, Lonzo Ball is looking forward to playing with Thomas, suggesting that his pass-first style and Thomas’ score-first mentality should mesh well together, as Bill Oram of The Orange County Register details.
  • In a conversation with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma addressed several topics, including the team’s recent trades of Larry Nance and Jordan Clarkson, his friendship with Ball, and the possibility of the Lakers landing a star in free agency.

Cavs Notes: Altman, Wade, Rose, James, Thomas

The Cavaliers had the busiest and most impactful trade deadline of any team, swinging three major trades and restructuring a faltering roster by the end of lunchtime on February 8. The behind-the-scenes and on-court struggles preceding the moves were a major talking point across the league, as’s Joe Vardon breaks down.

For starters, Cleveland’s rookie general manager, Koby Altman, deserves a lot of the credit for seemingly righting a ship that was on the verge of sinking. LeBron James addressed the changes and praised the general manager.

“It just wasn’t working out for us, and he felt like, obviously you guys saw his quotes, he made the changes that he felt best fits our team,” James said.

Yet, Altman had to correct an issue that brought upon by decisions made by him, owner Dan Gilbert, head coach Tyronn Lue, and James himself, Vardon writes. James never wanted the team to trade Kyrie Irving; when he was dealt, the Cavaliers tried to assemble the best roster possible and attempted to accommodate James despite him not committing long-term.

  • In the story, Vardon writes that the Cavaliers did not feel Dwyane Wade fit on the roster. However, once his buyout from the Bulls was complete, and at James’ urging, the team signed him anyway. While he adjusted well to the bench, Wade initially taking J.R. Smiths starter role had an adverse impact on Smith, who never got on track in the first half of the season. Also, Vardon notes that Wade — not Isaiah Thomas — was the first to question Kevin Loves illness that forced him to leave a game.
  • Derrick Rose was recruited to Cleveland by Lue and – despite his injuries – was expected to a valuable piece on a team-friendly deal. However, just a few games into the season, Rose suffered a sprained ankle that diminished his performance and he eventually left the team to evaluate his future. Upon his return, his teammates accepted him publicly but privately felt it was a matter of time before he was dealt.
  • A lot of was made of Isaiah Thomas‘ criticisms, which came while he was struggling himself. He admitted that he was not at full health as he recovered from the hip injury that kept him out to start the season. Lue felt he had to play Thomas as he was essentially Irving’s replacement but his performance never matched his output last season in Boston.
  • Without a commitment from LeBron, the Cavs were reluctant to surrender draft picks or take on significant salary beyond the current season. However, Gilbert took on future salary in multiple instances, adding Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, and George Hill, who are all under contract beyond 2017/18. It’s an insurance net for Cleveland in case James does leave in free agency. For now, James is prepared to take on the leadership role that he seemed to vacate while the team struggled. “So it’s my job as the leader of this team to make sure that I acclimate the new four guys to be around a culture that’s built on winning and practicing championship habits,” he said.

California Notes: Thomas, Teodosic, Clippers, Kings

Isaiah Thomas has played in just one game with the Lakers since he was traded from Cleveland on Thursday, so it’s too early to tell how he’s adjusting to his new Lakers teammates. Still, the results of that one game were promising, Elliot Teaford of the Orange County Register writes.

Thomas came off the bench to contribute 22 points and 6 assists in Saturday’s loss to the Mavericks. After the game, Thomas admitted that he watched the Lakers as a spectator this season and was aware of the talent the roster wields.

“I just wanted to come in with energy,” Thomas said. “I just wanted to bring something to the table. I just wanted to bring that energy, bring that intensity and make plays. The ball happened to go in. All these guys are talented. I watched this team from afar.”

Check out other news pertaining to California’s NBA teams:

  • Thomas’ journey from a top-five finish for the NBA MVP last season to Cavaliers castoff has brought uncertainty to his impending free agency,’s David Aldridge writes. Opinions about Thomas’ future earning varied among several executives Aldridge questioned. One executive said Thomas’ Lakers debut made him look like a $12-$15MM per year player while others feel he will need to settle for a mid-level exception.
  • Marc Stein of the New York Times has an entertaining feature on Clippers point guard Milos Teodosic. The Serbian playmaker was regarded as the best player in the world not signed to an NBA deal until he arrived stateside this past offseason. In his chat with Stein, Teodosic discusses the myth that he eats cheeseburgers for breakfast, as well as his NBA future.
  • The Clippers are still in the thick of the playoff race, but their injury-riddled season has forced the team to get creative with lineups. After a busy trade deadline, the team can now focus on establishing a routine lineup for the remainder of the season, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes.
  • The Kings are in a good cap space situation, but the team’s vision is gearing toward the summer of 2019, James Ham of NBC Sports writes. That summer, the Kings will be rid of all veteran contract commitments and will be in prime position to strike in the market.