Isaiah Thomas

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Hollis-Jefferson, Ntilikina

The Celtics had a historically busy offseason, Chris Forsberg of ESPN writes, involved in so many major transactions that it’s hard to pinpoint just one single deal to to summarize the commotion. In early July it was announced that the C’s had agreed to a deal with Gordon Hayward, the only thing they lacked was cap room.

Given that it was a known fact around the league that the Celtics would need to shed salary, Boston executives were swamped with calls from teams looking to facilitate their Hayward signing by helping the club clear space. The eventual deal that was agreed upon – the one that would send Avery Bradley – to the Pistons – was struck at the last minute.

News of the deal was initially kept quiet while the Celtics and Pistons set out to inform the respective players involved but Detroit managed to get in contact with Marcus Morris well before the C’s were able to reach out to Bradley. Bradley, it’s said, had to find out that he was traded through Google.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Entering his third season with the Nets, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has yielded praise from head coach Kenny Atkinson, Greg Joyce of the New York Post writes. “I’ve really been kind of thrilled with his performance and that’s from the first day of training camp,” Atkinson said. “He’s matured. I think he’s more level, even-keeled, I think he’s more consistent. It’ll be huge if he can continue that type of demeanor, that type of approach.
  • In response to comments that Isaiah Thomas would, possibly, never talk to Danny Ainge ever again, the Celtics‘ general manager said the guard would forever be a part of franchise history. ESPN’s Chris Forsberg posted a transcript of Ainge’s exact comments on Twitter.
  • The Knicks have been impressed with Frank Ntilikina‘s eye for Xs and Os, Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes. The guard apparently picked up on new plays that Jeff Hornacek added to the rotation while watching a preseason game from home as he nursed a knee injury.

Isaiah Thomas Discusses Hip, Trade, Ainge, Cavs

After a wild summer that saw him sent from the Celtics to the conference-rival Cavaliers, Isaiah Thomas tells Lee Jenkins of SI.com that 2017 has been the best year of his career, but the worst year of his life. Thomas posted historic regular season numbers and was the unquestioned leader of a Boston team that won two playoff series in the spring, but a hip injury sidelined him toward the end of the postseason, and he has had to adjust to a new team and city while recovering from that injury.

Thomas, who is expected to be sidelined through at least the end of December, admits to Jenkins that he made his hip injury worse by playing in the postseason. However, the standout point guard remains confident that he can make a full recovery, and the Cavaliers share that view much more than they did when they first acquired him, says Jenkins. For his part, Thomas says he intends to play until he’s 40.

While Jenkins’ in-depth feature on the former Kings, Suns, and Celtics guard is worth reading in full, here are a few more quotes of interest from Thomas:

On his reaction to the blockbuster deal that sent him to Cleveland:

“None of it made any sense. It still doesn’t make any sense. I’m still asking, ‘What the hell happened?’ It’s a trade you make in NBA2K. It’s not a trade you make in real life.”

On whether he’s seeking revenge on the Celtics after their decision to trade him:

“Boston is going to be all love, [but] I might not ever talk to Danny [Ainge] again. That might not happen. I’ll talk to everybody else. But what he did, knowing everything I went through, you don’t do that, bro. That’s not right. I’m not saying eff you. But every team in this situation comes out a year or two later and says, ‘We made a mistake.’ That’s what they’ll say, too.”

On not rushing back from his hip injury to get in the Cavs’ lineup:

“The nice thing about the Cavs is nobody is in a rush. Most places are trying to get you back, which isn’t always best for you. These guys know they’re going to play in June. It’s a given.”

Cavaliers Notes: Thomas, Jefferson, Crowder, James

Isaiah Thomas has hired a new agent in preparation for next summer’s free agency, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Aaron Goodwin will represent the 28-year-old point guard, who is expected to be out of action until January with an injured right hip. Goodwin served as the first agent for LeBron James and has other high-profile clients such as DeMar DeRozan and Damian Lillard. Thomas, an All-Star last season, has been open about his desire for a maximum contract. The Cavs own Thomas’ Bird rights because he came to the team in a trade.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • The battle for the final roster spot may come down to veterans Richard Jefferson and Jose Calderon, writes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. The Cavaliers may not want to part with Calderon after signing him in July, so that could signal the end for the 37-year-old Jefferson, who has spent the past two seasons in Cleveland. Pluto notes that Jefferson’s salary is only $2.5MM, and 11 teams could accommodate him with trade exceptions, so the Cavs may try to make a deal rather than waiving him. Trading Jefferson could save the team roughly $10MM in luxury tax payments.
  • Former GM David Griffin tried for years to acquire Jae Crowder, whom the Cavs picked up in the Kyrie Irving deal, Pluto adds in the same story. James likes Crowder’s propensity to cut to the basket and score, and only Orlando’s Aaron Gordon ranked ahead of him in that category last season.
  • James will see his first preseason action Tuesday, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The Cavs have been careful with their star since he sprained his ankle on the second day of training camp, and coach Tyronn Lue wants to give his rotation players two games to get used to playing together. “If it was the season or the playoffs, he would have definitely been back by now, but it’s just being cautious,” Lue said of James’ status. “To start the season, you don’t want something like this to linger throughout the whole course of the season. So it was just smart for him to take some time off, get healthy and now he feels pretty good and we’ll try to give it a go on Tuesday.”

Cavaliers Hope To Have Isaiah Thomas Back By Christmas

The Cavaliers are optimistic that Isaiah Thomas can recover from injuries to his right hip in time for their Christmas game with Golden State, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.

The two-time All-Star has reportedly made “real progress” in rehab since joining the team in late August. Thomas was part of the package that Cleveland received from Boston in return for Kyrie Irving, and a dispute over Thomas’ medical condition help up the deal for about a week.

Cavaliers officials refused to answer questions about Thomas’ hip in a press conference after the deal was completed and offered no timetable for a possible return. Today’s news is the first indication of when he might be ready to play again.

Thomas suffered a torn labrum during the season and aggravated the injury in the Eastern Conference Finals, forcing him to miss the end of the series. It has been reported that he also has a loss of cartilage and some arthritis, which has slowed the recovery process.

Thomas has used a multi-faceted rehab plan to try to get back on the court, Vardon writes. In addition to weightlifting and stretching, he has been running in a pool and on a weightless treadmill and taking stationary shots on the court.

Thomas’ condition affects more than just the Cavaliers’ season. He is hoping for a max contract in free agency next summer after making about $6.3MM this year.

In other news out of Cleveland today:

  • Coach Tyronn Lue says free agent addition Derrick Rose will be the starting point guard until Thomas returns, Vardon tweets. The former MVP agreed to a one-year, minimum salary deal with Cleveland in July after spending one year with the Knicks.
  • The team has named Bernie Bickerstaff senior advisor of basketball operations, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link).

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Simmons, Carroll

The Raptors have four players on non-guaranteed deals effectively auditioning for the final two guaranteed slots on their roster, Josh Lewenberg of TSN writes. Given the number of veterans the team lost over the offseason, the individuals who end up in the 14th and 15th spots on the squad could actually see meaningful minutes in 2017/18.

Among those battling for one of the final openings on the lone Canadian team’s roster is Canadian national team forward Kyle Wiltjer. Wiltjer didn’t make much of an impact on the playoff-bound Rockets last season but serves as a potent deep ball threat, not unlike outgoing Raptors forward Patrick Patterson.

Wiltjer will face stiff competition making the Raptors, especially from the versatile K.J. McDaniels who failed to stick with the Nets last season but has otherwise shown promise as an incredibly versatile, Swiss army knife of a forward.

Also vying for the final two spots will be Kennedy Meeks and Alfonzo McKinnie, the latter of whom Lewenberg mentions along with McDaniels to be the ones to watch as training camp begins and the Raptors inch closer to finalizing their roster.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

Central Notes: Galloway, Pistons, Thomas, Nwaba

Having received a three-year, $21MM deal, Langston Galloway was the Pistons‘ biggest free agent investment of the offseason, and even he admits that he was surprised how quickly he reached an agreement with the team, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.

“I really thought it was going to take a while. I thought I was going to be on the board for a long time,” Galloway said. “My agent was pretty optimistic. We knew there were a few teams talking about me, but nobody really said, ‘We’re going to take a chance on you and go with you.’ But, hey, once 12 o’clock hit and I got an unexpected call from [Pistons president of basketball operations] Stan [Van Gundy], that was amazing.”

As Langlois details, Galloway is comfortable playing at both the one and two, and his ability to handle the point allowed the Pistons to avoid having to go out and sign a third pure point guard behind Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith.

Here’s more from around the Central:

Atlantic Notes: Thomas, Crowder, Zeller

While the Celtics won’t struggle to replace the statistics that Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder posted, they’ll be hard-pressed to find a replacement for the toughness and temperament they brought to Boston, A. Sherrod Blakeley of CSN New England writes.

Both Thomas and Crowder took their careers to a new level in Boston, blossoming into substantial core pieces for the rejuvenated Celtics. Some of the franchise’s best moments from the past few seasons, Blakeley writes, can be attributed directly to the twosome.

That underdog mentality was and is a major component for any team looking to unseat LeBron James and Cleveland in the East. Now Thomas and Crowder will bring that tough, scrappy frame of mind with them to a Cavaliers squad that’s looking like an underdog itself — at least compared to the champions in Golden State.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Prior to signing Tyler Zeller this week, the Nets had just two players taller than 6’8″ on their roster, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes.
  • The Raptors doubled down on a winning formula this summer but it may be for naught, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. Toronto’s core is intact, but what they could really benefit from is the development of some of their young assets.
  • Count former Celtics great Paul Pierce among those high on Jayson Tatum. The future Hall of Famer told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England that the rookie, with his footwork and step-back, reminds him of himself toward the later stages of his career.

Central Notes: Thomas, Lue, Walters, Pacers

There is still little to no definitive answer on Isaiah Thomas ailing hip and the new Cavaliers point guard could be dealing with more than just a hip ailment, Jason Lloyd of The Athletic writes. Lloyd referenced general manager Kolby Altman‘s reluctance to address Thomas’ injury and the cloudy aura surrounding his recovery.

Thomas has previously given optimistic comments about his future, stating that he will be the same dynamic scorer he was in Boston upon returning. However, it has not been over four months since Thomas went down with the hip injury and there is no solid update on his future. One person Lloyd spoke to suggested that Thomas is dealing with more than just a torn labrum, adding that a loss of cartilage and some arthritis in the hip are complicating the healing process.

“No one has any idea how quickly this will heal or if it even will heal at all,” the source said to Lloyd about Thomas’ injury. “It’s hard to predict.”

At this point, it’s all but certain that Thomas will not be ready for opening night; one report mentioned the All-Star break in February as a possible timetable.

Read more news around the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue likes the moves his team made this offseason and is entering the 2017/18 season with an optimistic mindset, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes.
  • Former NBA player and G-League coach Rex Walters has joined the Pistons‘ coaching staff. As NBA.com’s Keith Langlois writes, head coach Stan Van Gundy is excited with Walters’ reputation to help players develop their skills after he was frustrated
  • Shaun Powell of NBA.com previews the Pacers‘ first season in the post-Paul George era.

Cavs GM: No Timetable For Isaiah Thomas’ Return

The Cavaliers introduced the newest members of their roster at a press conference in Cleveland today, and when the team opened up the floor for questions, the topic of discussion quickly turned to Isaiah Thomas‘ injured right hip. However, Cavs general manager Koby Altman shot down that line of questioning, declining to discuss specifics and suggesting that there’s no set timetable for Thomas’ return, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.

“Our responsibility is to get him back to 100% and that’s our goal,” Altman said. “Our performance team has mapped out a great plan, a multi-faceted plan to really attack this thing, and Isiah is deeply committed to that.”

Recent reports have suggested that Thomas is unlikely to be ready to start the regular season, and while Altman didn’t confirm as much, he strongly hinted at it, saying today that his new point guard will be back on the court “at some point” this season. Head coach Tyronn Lue also noted that he didn’t expect to have Thomas to start the year.

Altman indicated that the Cavaliers’ medical staff has an extensive plan for Thomas’ rehabilitation and recovery, but said that plan will be “non-surgical,” per Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. During the week last month when the deal involving Thomas and Kyrie Irving still appeared to be in flux, there were reports that Cavs doctors may have been questioning the Celtics’ decision to forgo surgery, but it seems Cleveland will take the same approach with Thomas’ recovery.

If Thomas is out to start the 2017/18 season, as expected, newly-added free agents Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon figure to handle most of the point guard minutes, with LeBron James and others also taking on ball-handling duties.

Latest On Isaiah Thomas

One of the newest members of the Cavaliers, Isaiah Thomas is in the process of parting ways with his current agent at Excel Sports Management, Chris Haynes of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). With unrestricted free agency looming in 2018, Thomas will be seeking new representation to negotiate his next contract.

It’s an interesting move for Thomas, who has previously expressed a belief that he’s worth a maximum salary investment. Given the questions surrounding the health of Thomas’ hip, along with the diminishing market for point guards – Kyle Lowry, George Hill, and Jeff Teague all received less than expected this offseason – landing a max deal will be a challenge no matter who his new agent is.

Thomas will have to show this season that he can replicate last season’s performance – or at least come close to it – and will also have to put any concerns about that troublesome hip to rest. Even then, as this year’s class of free agent point guards showed, a max contract is no guarantee.

Here’s more on Thomas as he adjust to his new team:

  • As Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com details, Thomas begun to open up about the trade to Cleveland this week, posting an Instagram video that showed his reaction to the deal, along with several clips of him working out.
  • Thomas went into far more detail in a piece for The Players’ Tribune, expressing a love for Boston, but calling himself and the Cavaliers a “match made in heaven.” The piece – which includes reactions from Thomas’ sons to the trade, along with a post-trade text message exchange with Tom Brady – is worth checking out in full.
  • One notable excerpt from Thomas’ piece saw him contrast the reaction to his being traded to Kevin Durant choosing to sign with the Warriors: “I want [people] to see how my getting traded — just like that, without any warning — by the franchise that I scratched and clawed for, and bled for, and put my everything on the line for? That’s why people need to fix their perspective. It’s like, man — with a few exceptions, unless we’re free agents, 99 times out of 100, it’s the owners with the power. So when players are getting moved left and right, and having their lives changed without any say-so, and it’s no big deal … but then the handful of times it flips, and the player has control … then it’s some scandal?”
  • In an excellent article for ESPN.com, Tom Haberstroh takes a deep dive on Thomas’ hip injury, suggesting that the point guard may have actually suffered his labral tear in December, not March.
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