Isaiah Thomas

Cavaliers Notes: Thomas, Thompson, James, Wade

Injured Cavaliers Isaiah Thomas and Tristan Thompson participated in a four-on-four scrimmage this morning, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Coach Tyronn Lue and his assistants were watching, along with some of the front office. Rookies Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic also played, along with four members of the player development staff.

Thompson has been sidelined since November 1 because of a strained left calf muscle, and the team is hoping he can return this week, although he has already been ruled out for tonight’s game. Thomas hasn’t played since last season’s Eastern Conference finals due to a torn labrum and other issues with his right hip. Vardon says the Cavaliers would like to have him back for their Christmas game with Golden State.

“At the end of the day it’s all about the next day,” LeBron James said. “When they say they feel good the next day after a workout session, that’s great to know.”

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • James is using a video game to help him adjust to teaming with Thomas, Vardon adds in the same story. James said he has been able to imagine what it will be like to join forces with the former Celtics star “because I play a lot of [NBA]2K.”
  • Fitting Thomas into an already-successful lineup may be a difficult transition, writes Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. After stumbling through the early season, the Cavs have strung together 12 straight wins and have found a winning combination with Jose Calderon as the starting point guard and Dwyane Wade running the second unit. However, Thomas, who averaged 28.9 PPG in Boston last season, is used to controlling the ball and may not fit as well with the other starters as Calderon. He is also considered a poor defender because of his size and may reverse the team’s progress in that area.
  • Wade is providing an example of an aging star gracefully moving into the late stages of his career, writes Bill Livingston of Cleveland.com. After starting the first three games of the season, Wade asked the coaching staff to make him a reserve for the first time since he came to the NBA. He has responded by doing a lot of unglamorous things, ranking second on the team in blocks and assists and third in rebounding and steals.

Cavs Notes: Rose, Thomas, Wade, LeBron

Derrick Rose continues to stay in communication with the Cavaliers’ front office during his absence from the team, but his future in Cleveland “remains unclear,” sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Rose, who left the Cavs last Wednesday, isn’t healthy enough to play right now anyway, so the team has been patient with the point guard’s needs and hasn’t shown any indication of considering a fine or suspension for him, per Wojnarowski. Still, the situation will likely need to be addressed by the time Rose has recovered from his ankle injury.

As the Cavs wait for Rose to make a decision on his future, here are a few more notes out of Cleveland:

  • While Rose’s return is unclear, the Cavaliers remain hopeful that their other injured point guard, Isaiah Thomas, will be able to return to the court at some point in December, Wojnarowski notes in the piece linked above. Although Thomas published a tweet on Sunday hinting that his return is imminent, he’s still a few steps away from making his Cavs debut, says Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
  • Dwyane Wade will face the Heat on Tuesday for the first time as a Cavalier, and Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra says that seeing Wade in a Cavs uniform is “like the Twilight Zone,” per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “It will never seem right,” Spoelstra said. “For me, I hate it. But I’m happy for Dwyane. I’m happy for his family. I think he’s in a good spot. … I think the role that he’s in is going to be one of the most impactful roles in the league.”
  • Much has been made of Kyrie Irving‘s emergence in Boston after the offseason’s blockbuster Cavs/Celtics trade, but LeBron James is playing some of the best ball of his career in the wake of that deal too. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst takes a closer look at James’ dominance this season, including his tremendous fourth-quarter numbers.

Central Notes: Portis, Thomas, Oladipo, Leuer

While opposing fans won’t let him forget about last month’s altercation with Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis has put that fight behind him and has expressed optimism about the Bulls‘ roster and the team’s future, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

“I feel like we can be a good team in the future with all the pieces that we have and everybody starting to come together,” Portis said. Later, addressing the Bulls’ end-of-game lineup, Portis pointed out that having him play alongside Lauri Markkanen gives the club the sort of frontcourt size that many teams don’t have in their closing lineups. “I feel like that’s definitely something we can use in the future,” Portis added.

As Cowley observes, the fact that Portis is talking so much about the Bulls’ future suggests that he doesn’t expect to be traded anytime soon, despite a reported ultimatum from Mirotic’s camp.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Cavaliers point guard Isaiah Thomas still doesn’t have a specific return date set, but he has taken another important step forward in his recovery from a right hip injury, says Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Thomas, who is aiming to return around the end of 2017, is now going through contact drills, according to Fedor.
  • Victor Oladipo is enjoying a career year so far on the court for the Pacers, but his behind-the-scenes leadership has also been an important part of the team’s early success, writes Clifton Brown of The Indianapolis Star. Acquired in the summer’s Paul George trade, Oladipo figures to be a fixture in Indiana for years to come — he and rookie T.J. Leaf are the only two Pacers under contract through 2020/21.
  • The Pistons will play on Friday night for the first time since Monday, and the three-day break likely benefited a few banged-up players, including Jon Leuer, Andre Drummond, and Avery Bradley. However, as Rod Beard of The Detroit News relays, Stan Van Gundy says Leuer is “just not progressing the way he had hoped” as he battles an ankle injury.

Central Notes: Turner, Thomas, Calderon

It’s been eight games since Myles Turner returned to action for the Pacers after suffering a concussion in the team’s season opener. The big man, Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star writes, has been struggling to find his groove ever since.

The third-year center has failed to top the 13-point plateau in each of the past five games and he hasn’t cracked double-digits in rebounds either. Last season, in contrast, the 21-year-old averaged 14.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for the Pacers, setting the stage for a significant step forward in the first season without Paul George in the lineup.

Sometimes when you miss games, it sets you back and you lose your rhythm,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “He had some shots that he’s very capable of making. I told him, ‘Don’t get down on yourself. Keep shooting the ball. That rhythm will come for you.'”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • It’s coming, but the Cavaliers are still adapting to life without Kyrie Irving, Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer writes. There has been a noticeable hole in Cleveland’s attack at the point, although injuries to Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose have played a large part of that.
  • The Cavaliers will turn to Jose Calderon to fill a gaping hole at the point guard position, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. The 36-year-old has only played 6.7 minutes per game for the Cavs this season.
  • The rehabilitation process inherent with Isaiah Thomas‘ hip injury has helped the player build a unique sense of respect with the Cavaliers franchise. “I’m protecting myself, so, even if they wanted me to hurry back, I’m not going to hurry back, just because I’ve got a long career ahead of me and an important summer as well,” Thomas, a pending free agent, told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “So, I’ve got to make sure I’m 100 percent healthy before I step out on the floor. But these guys have not rushed me one bit. They’ve taken their time with me and I appreciate that. Because most teams, they want you out there, especially if things aren’t going well.

Injury Notes: A. Davis, Thomas, Porzingis, Wall

Earlier today, we passed on the news that Sixers guard Markelle Fultz in making progress with his shoulder ailment. Here are a few more injury notes involving some of the NBA’s top players:

  • Pelicans forward Anthony Davis has cleared the concussion protocol and is probable for Monday’s game, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate. Davis was diagnosed with a contusion of the orbit bone above his right eye after a collision the third quarter of Friday night’s contest. He was removed from the game and didn’t re-enter.
  • Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas participated in some five-on-zero drills and worked on his shot today in practice, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com (Twitter link).
  • Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis has swelling in his elbow caused by bursitis, but says it isn’t the reason for his recent shooting problems, according to Ian Begley of ESPN (Twitter link). “At the end of last season, it was really swollen; it was really, really big,” he said of the elbow. “But it was never really bothering me. Now this season, kind of fell on it a couple of times. It wasn’t bothering me either. In Sacramento, I fell kind of on the side. It was a new spot. It was much more sensitive. Now I’m doing treatment. Today’s the day I’m almost back to normal. I almost don’t feel it at all anymore.”
  • Wizards guard John Wall will miss today’s game with soreness in his left knee, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.
  • Warriors forward Kevin Durant suffered a sprained ankle last night and will sit out today’s game in Brooklyn, tweets Warriors PR.

Central Notes: Rose, Thomas, Liggins

The Cavaliers have been without Derrick Rose since November 7 and may be without him for at least two more weeks, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. The club has announced that the veteran point guard’s sprained ankle will be immobilized in a boot and that he’ll undergo treatment through the end of the month.

Rose’s tenure with the Cavaliers hasn’t gotten off to as a good as start as some may have hoped after a relatively successful year with the Knicks. The 29-year-old has averaged 14.3 points per game but has only seen action in seven of the team’s 15 games this season.

The injured ankle that’s been plaguing Rose is the same one that the Cavaliers guard missed nine days due to from October 20 to October 29.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • It wasn’t long ago when Andre Drummond was the subject of trade rumors due to his inability to hit free throws and a perceived lack of effort. These days, Vincent Goodwill of Bleacher Report writes, the Pistons big man has drastically improved his stock with head coach Stan Van Gundy and around the league.
  • Through 11 games with his sixth NBA team, DeAndre Liggins has impressed. The defensive specialist has made a name for himself as a gritty, energetic perimeter stopper and that’s served him well with the Bucks, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes.
  • Injured Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas stands by his decision to forego surgery on his hip, Sam Amick of USA Today writes. “Every week now, every week I’m getting better and better. I’m doing more and more. I’m getting closer to being back on the floor and being able to play, so the only thing that is the frustrating part is the time.

Cavaliers Notes: Thomas, James, Love, Thompson

Isaiah Thomas discusses his injury, the long recovery process, his trade to Cleveland and much more in a new docu-series on The Players Tribune, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. Titled “The Book of Isaiah II,” it will trace his experiences from the 2017 playoffs through the present, but the part that should most interest Cavaliers fans is Thomas’ rehabilitation of his injured hip. January 1 has been floated as a possible return date, but Thomas is hoping to make it earlier.

“This is what I live for,” he said. “Every time something happens in my career, I always bounce back and it’s bigger than anything anybody ever thought. And this is just going to be the same thing. I’m excited about the opportunity. I’m excited to be able to be on this stage playing and battling with the best player in the world. … I’m ready for all that, and I’m preparing right now for all of that, and I can’t wait.”

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • The agent for LeBron James says the chance to compete for a title should drive his client’s decision when he becomes a free agent next summer, relays Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. “For anywhere – not Los Angeles, not Miami, not Detroit, Milwaukee – I think for LeBron, and for most athletes, the most important thing is about winning,” Rich Paul said in an interview on The Herd. “At his level, it should be. It should be about winning at his point in his career.” He noted that Cleveland has been very successful since James’ return, with three straight trips to the NBA Finals.
  • The Cavaliers should ask James directly about his plans for the future and explore a trade if he’s not fully committed to Cleveland, suggests Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. James has a contract provision that allows him to reject any deal, but Kyler believes it would be wiser to address the situation now than to have to launch another rebuilding project if James leaves again.
  • Cleveland needs to find an athletic swingman who can guard multiple positions and would be willing to trade Kevin Love or Tristan Thompson to obtain one, according to Chris Mannix of The Vertical. However, Mannix says that type of player isn’t on the market right now, with the Hawks’ Kent Bazemore being the closest available version. Mannix speculates that the Cavs would move any asset except James or the Nets’ unprotected first-rounder in the right deal, but nothing is close at the moment.

Cavs Notes: James’ Impact, James’ Ambitions, Monroe

The impact that LeBron James has on the basketball world goes beyond the court. The superstar has helped a number of teammates land significant paydays, as outlined by Jason Lloyd of The Athletic.

[James] definitely puts you in position to be successful to showcase what you’re great at and he enhances it on the bigger stage,” teammate Tristan Thompson, one of the chief beneficiaries of James’ impact said. “Eight and eight on a championship team is worth more than eight and eight on a .500 team or a team that doesn’t make the playoffs. Of course, that’s definitely a huge factor.

Beyond Thompson, Lloyd lists players like J.R. Smith (who is represented by the same agency as James and Thompson) but also Matthew Dellavedova, whose scrappy play under the postseason spotlight landed him a $38MM contract.

If we didn’t go to the Finals, I don’t get that playoff experience,” Dellavedova said. “I think the effect he has on everybody — he impacts so much that people don’t even think of. I think he has a role in a lot of things. An impact on everything.”

There’s more from the Cavs:

  • In the same feature at The Athletic, James opens up to Lloyd about the idea of owning an NBA franchise in the future. There’s no guarantee that opportunity comes in Cleveland, however. “To be an owner of any team would be crazy. If this thing opened up and I’m in a position financially, and I’ve got the right team around me, obviously. But who’s to say Dan will [sell]?” James said.
  • It’ll take some time for Isaiah Thomas to get used to playing with LeBron James and the rest of the Cavaliers but he tells Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com that he’s well-suited to make that transition quicker than most. “Me being older, me knowing the game a little bit more and being a student of the game, I’m going to be able to adjust quicker than somebody else could,” Thomas said.
  • The Cavs aren’t interested in making a move for Sixers big man Jahlil Okafor but their interest in Greg Monroe would be higher, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com says in a question-and-answer with readers.

 

Latest On Isaiah Thomas’ Recovery

Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas continues to make progress toward a return from the hip injury that has sidelined him this season, and he may be ahead of schedule in his recovery, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.

The last concrete update we heard on Thomas’ timetable suggested that the Cavaliers were hoping to have him back on the court by January 1, or perhaps even in time for the club’s Christmas Day game against Golden State. The Cavs haven’t officially updated or changed that target date, but Vardon refers to it as “conservative,” and suggests that IT’s timetable for a return “seems to be accelerating.”

According to Vardon, Thomas’ on-court work before games and during practices has increased, though head coach Tyronn Lue remained noncommittal when asked on Sunday if he still believes the veteran point guard will be out until January.

“I don’t know,” Lue said. “You know, the staff is doing a great job of just, you know, just trying to get him ready, trying to get him right, so, we don’t want to rush him back if he’s not 100 percent.”

With Derrick Rose on a minutes limit and Jose Calderon not currently part of the rotation, the Cavs could use Thomas back to help stabilize the point guard position. However, team defense has been Cleveland’ Achilles heel so far this season, and the ex-Celtic is unlikely to help much on that front.

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.
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