Isaiah Thomas

And-Ones: CP3, Griffin, I. Thomas, Hall Of Fame

A number of reports both during and after the Lob City era in Los Angeles suggested that Clippers stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul had a tendency to rub one another the wrong way and weren’t exactly the best of friends by the time CP3 was traded to Houston.

However, appearing on the Up in Smoke Podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, Paul admitted that he gained a renewed fondness for Griffin after his days with the Clippers were over.

“It’s seriously one of those things you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone,” Paul said, per Kurt Helin of NBC Sports. “I think about it at times. And me and Blake absolutely had our issues here and there, but I actually appreciated Blake probably a lot more after I left.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Isaiah Thomas, who recently expressed confidence that he’ll have no problem finding an NBA job for next season, told NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller on the Wizards Talk Podcast that he wants to play for many more years. “I have a lot left in the tank and my goal has always been to play until 40 (years old), and I’m going to try everything I can to reach that,” the 31-year-old guard said.
  • With the Basketball Hall of Fame scheduled to officially announce its 2020 class on Saturday, an ESPN panel identified the most likely Hall-of-Famer on every NBA team’s current roster.
  • Which current NBA front office executives look like candidates to take on greater roles in the not-too-distant future? Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News spoke to multiple sources in an attempt to compile a list of the rising and overlooked executives from around the league, ranging from current general managers and assistant GMs to scouts and G League execs.

Isaiah Thomas Not Worried About His NBA Future

When the NBA went on hiatus, Isaiah Thomas had been a free agent for several weeks, but he’s not worried about finding another opportunity down the road once the league resumes play. Responding to a question from a Twitter follower earlier this week, Thomas dismissed the idea that he may have to look overseas for his next job.

Why wouldn’t I get another (NBA) shot though?” Thomas said. “I started 40 games this season (and) got thrown in a trade to make it work to a team that didn’t want me. Nothing more, nothing less. All you need is ONE team to want you. I’ll get back to it real soon.”

Thomas, 31, signed a one-year contract with the Wizards last summer and had a solid bounce-back year in D.C., averaging 12.2 PPG and 3.7 APG with a career-best .413 3PT% in 40 games (37 starts; 23.1 MPG). He was sent to the Clippers in the three-team deadline-day deal that saw Jerome Robinson land in Washington, and was subsequently released by L.A.

It was a somewhat concerning sign for Thomas that the Wizards and Clippers both viewed him as expendable, despite the fact that each team added a point guard at or after the deadline, with Washington trading for Shabazz Napier and Los Angeles signing Reggie Jackson.

Thomas’ defensive shortcomings may have played a part in both teams’ willingness to move on from him — the Wizards had an ugly 120.2 defensive rating during his minutes, and he ranked 500th out of 503 players in defensive real plus-minus this season, per ESPN. Still, he’s likely right that his scoring ability will continue to intrigue NBA teams, if not before the end of a resumed 2019/20 season then perhaps during the offseason.

Isaiah Thomas Says He’s Talked To “Several” Teams

The three-team trade that sent Marcus Morris from the Knicks to the Clippers two weeks ago also landed Isaiah Thomas in Los Angeles by way of Washington. However, Thomas’ stint with the Clips was short-lived, as the team waived him just two days later.

Speaking to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Thomas admits he was “surprised” the Clippers released him, especially considering the team seemed to be in the market for a point guard.

L.A. will reportedly sign Reggie Jackson after he clears waivers later today, so perhaps the club already knew of Jackson’s interest through back-channels. Thomas, who isn’t a particularly strong defender, may also just not have fit the profile of what the Clippers were looking for.

In any case, Thomas told Kennedy that he understands the Clippers just viewed him as a “throw-in” in the deal, and isn’t bothered by it.

“It’s not like they were really trading for me; they were trading for Marcus Morris, which I understand,” Thomas said. “In my nine years in the NBA, I’ve learned that anything can happen. I thought it could work and I thought it was a good fit for me, but they thought otherwise. That’s okay. Now, I’m just trying to figure out the best situation moving forward.”

In his conversation with Kennedy, Thomas addressed several other topics, including his health, his possible next destination, his favorite Kobe Bryant stories, and much more. The Q&A is worth checking out in full, but here are some highlights from IT as he navigates free agency:

On his health:

“My health is good. As everybody has seen this season, I’ve been able to play every game and I’ve been able to practice every day. I wasn’t having to take days off; I was able to just focus on working and getting better. With my health, there are no questions. Now, I’m staying in shape and staying ready for the next opportunity.”

On whether he has been in touch with NBA teams since his release:

“Yeah, I won’t say specific teams, but we’ve had talks with several teams. Teams are interested, but we’re just trying to figure out what’s the best situation for me. Also, we know that other things may open up very soon.

“I’m just trying to stay as patient as possible when it comes to this while knowing that I’m ready for any opportunity that I’m given. Whether it’s a playoff team where I’ll be whichever piece they need to complete their puzzle or an up-and-coming team where I’m helping the young players and being a good veteran, I’m going to take advantage of whatever opportunity I’m given.”

On whether he’d want to play in Boston again after being unceremoniously traded by the team in 2017:
(Note: the Celtics reportedly don’t have interest in Thomas at the moment)

“For sure, if the opportunity presented itself. I hold no grudges, and they know that. I have genuine love for the city of Boston. If that were to happen, I’d love to be part of what they have going on. You never know. I’m always open for any opportunity to be in the NBA and play the game that I love at the highest level. If that opportunity presents itself, for sure. Time has passed.”

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Buyout Market, Hayward, KG

Prior to Thursday night’s game against the Celtics, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers raved about Jayson Tatum, suggesting that the young forward is already “one of the better players in the league,” adding that it will be “amazing” to see where he ends up after a few more years of development, per Darren Hartewell of NBC Sports Boston.

Although Rivers joked before the game that he didn’t need to see “any more growth” out of Tatum on Thursday, the 21-year-old gave the Clippers fits, turning in arguably the best performance of his career in a double-overtime win. He went off for a game-high 39 points on 14-of-23 shooting and made a handful of plays on both ends of the floor that helped clinch the win.

“He was incredible,” Kemba Walker said of his All-Star teammate, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. “He made every right play. He made every big shot. He was the best player on the court tonight.”

Tatum won’t be among the starters in Sunday’s All-Star game like Walker will, but the former No. 3 overall pick has emerged as the Celtics’ best all-around player this season, Forsberg argues. Tatum’s ascent is well-timed, as he’ll be extension-eligible for the first time during the 2020 offseason. Barring a major slump or injury in the second half, it’s hard to see how his next contract won’t be worth the maximum salary.

Here’s more out of Boston:

  • Appearing this week on radio show Toucher & Rich, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said there’s nothing on the buyout market that interests the team for the time being, per Forsberg (Twitter link). That includes free agent point guard Isaiah Thomas — Ainge praised the former Celtic, but suggested the fit may not be right with Boston’s current roster, as Forsberg relays.
  • Whether or not Gordon Hayward picks up his 2020/21 player option this spring, the Celtics are “very interested” in retaining the veteran forward long-term, a league source confirmed to Brian Robb of Boston Sports Journal. Hayward isn’t necessarily a lock to exercise his $34MM option, since he could command a larger overall payday on a longer-term contract.
  • The Celtics announced on Thursday that they intend to retire Kevin Garnett‘s No. 5 jersey at some point next season, as Taylor Snow details at Celtics.com.

Clippers Waive Isaiah Thomas

As expected, the Clippers have waived veteran guard Isaiah Thomas, two days after acquiring him from the Wizards in a three-team trade, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The move gives L.A. two open roster spots as it prepares to compete in the buyout market. The Clippers are expected to be leading contenders, along with the Lakers, for ex-Pacers guard Darren Collison if he decides to make an NBA comeback.

Thomas was sent to L.A. as part of the Marcus Morris deal, which was announced just before Thursday’s deadline. He averaged 12.2 points and 3.7 assists per night in 40 games for Washington, starting 37 of them.

The Clippers were Thomas’s fifth team in the past three seasons as he tries to work his way back into a stable situation after a devastating hip injury. He has a $1.62MM salary on a veteran’s minimum deal, so any team that claims him off waivers wouldn’t need cap room or a trade exception.

Clippers Acquire Marcus Morris In Three-Team Trade

7:37pm: The Clippers, Wizards, Knicks have issued press releases officially announcing this three-team trade sending Morris to the Clips.

Meanwhile, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic clarifies (via Twitter) that the Knicks only have the rights to swap their own 2021 first-round pick with the Clippers’ 2021 first-rounder — New York can’t swap Dallas’ 2021 first-rounder selection for L.A.’s.

1:45pm: The Clippers and Knicks have reached an agreement on a trade that will send Marcus Morris to Los Angeles, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the return for Morris will feature Maurice Harkless and multiple draft picks, including the Clippers’ 2020 first-rounder.

The deal will also include a third team, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), who reports that the Wizards will acquire Jerome Robinson from the Clippers, sending Isaiah Thomas to L.A.

The Knicks will get Detroit’s 2021 second-round pick from the Clippers, as well as the right to swap first-round picks with the Clippers in ’21, reports Ian Begley of SNY.tv (via Twitter). That pick swap will have top-four protection, adds Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (via Twitter). Draft-and-stash prospect Issuf Sanon will also go to New York (from Washington), tweets David Aldridge of The Athletic.

When Charania previously reported that the Knicks and Clippers were in serious discussions about Morris, Jovan Buha of The Athletic suggested that Los Angeles was offering Harkless, Mfiondu Kabengele, Terance Mann and its 2020 first-round pick. The final package for the Knicks is heavier on draft assets than NBA players, with Kabengele and Mann remaining in L.A.

Morris, 30, is having a career year in New York, with averages of 19.6 PPG and 5.4 RPG to go along with a .442/.439/.823 shooting line in 43 games (32.3 MPG). The Knicks were initially believed to be leaning toward keeping him and trying to re-sign him in free agency this summer, but changed course following Steve Mills‘ removal from the president of basketball operations role earlier this week.

Morris will join a talented Clippers frontcourt that features star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter), the team plans to start all three players when everyone’s healthy, alongside Patrick Beverley and Ivica Zubac.

The Lakers were among the other teams with interest in Morris, but were reportedly unwilling to include both Kyle Kuzma and Danny Green in a potential deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Clippers Won’t Retain Isaiah Thomas

The Clippers won’t be keeping Isaiah Thomas after acquiring him in today’s three-team deal with the Wizards and Knicks, reports David Aldridge of The Athletic (Twitter link). Since the deadline has now passed, we can assume that means Los Angeles will be releasing Thomas once the trade is officially complete.

Thomas, who will turn 31 on Friday, started 37 games this season for the Wizards and has had a nice bounceback year, averaging 12.2 PPG and 3.7 APG with a .409/.413/.816 shooting line in 23.1 minutes per contest. He has been a liability on defense, however — Washington recorded a dismal 120.2 defensive rating during his minutes.

Waiving Thomas would open up a second spot on the roster, since the club also traded point guard Derrick Walton to Atlanta today. Los Angeles may be targeting specific players on the buyout market – including comeback candidate Darren Collison – for those roster openings.

Assuming Thomas is cut today, teams around the NBA will have an opportunity to claim him off waivers this weekend. Since he’s on a minimum-salary deal, no cap room or trade exception would be required to place a claim.

Wizards Notes: Hachimura, Thomas, Draft, Wall

Rui Hachimura will be re-evaluated in about two weeks as he recovers from “a minor procedure” following a groin injury in a December 16 game, the Wizards announced in a press release. This is the first time the organization has acknowledged that Hachimura underwent a medical procedure, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic.

The rookie forward met with reporters prior to tonight’s game to provide an update on his condition. The injury resulted from an accidental kick by Isaac Bonga, and Hachimura said he forgave his teammate right away (Twitter link).

“He’s a good kid. It was an accident, you know,” he said. “I saw the video a couple times too. It was like, kind of — I don’t know. I don’t know how to explain but I think he felt bad too. He texted me right after.”

There’s more from Washington, D.C.:

  • Isaiah Thomas was fined $25K for making contact with an official in last night’s game, the league announced on Twitter. Thomas, who was ejected, insisted today that it was an accident, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. He explained that he lost his balance after being pushed in the back. “It was unintentional contact,” Thomas said. “Most importantly I would like to move on from it but I definitely didn’t mean to put my hand on a ref.” (Twitter link)
  • With the Wizards likely headed for the lottery again, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington takes an early look at the draft. He considers former Memphis center James Wiseman the best fit and wonders how the team would handle a guard-heavy draft after making major investments in John Wall and Bradley Beal. Hughes adds that Washington has moved some of its scouting resources to watch LaMelo Ball in Australia and R.J. Hampton in New Zealand.
  • In a separate story, coach Scott Brooks tells Hughes that Wall is filling a valuable role as an unofficial assistant coach as he recovers from injury, but is eager to start playing again. “It hurts John not to be out on the court playing. That guy’s a competitor,” Brooks said. “(When you’re out with an injury), you appreciate it more. I hate to say it, especially with the year we’ve had, injuries can happen with the next play. You don’t really know what’s going to happen, so you play your best on every play. When it’s taken away from you, it bothers you.”

Atlantic Notes: Thomas, Irving, Temple, Bullock, Burke

Wizards guard and former Celtic Isaiah Thomas believes that Kyrie Irving may not have been cut out to be the Celtics’ leader, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reports.

“That’s just like Boston and New York. You have to have a different type of skin to be able to succeed there,” Thomas said when asked about Irving. “They won 17 championships. They have 30 jerseys retired. So it’s expectations like you can do great but we need better and it’s always been like that. The media attention of putting on a Celtics jersey, a Knicks jersey, a Lakers jersey, those legendary teams and franchises, it’s just a little different.”

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Garrett Temple got off to a hot start with the Nets but he’s cooled off considerably while playing big minutes due to injuries, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. In his past five games heading into Monday’s action, Temple was shooting 26.6% overall and 24.3% from deep. “Yeah, I’ve got to figure out a way to get out of this slump,” Temple said. “I’ve got to make shots for us to keep the defense honest, but also just to offensively help us have more balance.” The Nets hold a $5MM option on Temple’s contract for next season.
  • Knicks guard Reggie Bullock‘s neck injury did not occur while playing, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic reports. Bullock, who is close to returning for the Knicks after offseason surgery for cervical disk herniation, said the injury came as a surprise to him. “I didn’t get hurt in an actual game or anything,” Bullock said. “It was just something that I woke up with.” The injury cost him millions. Bullock originally agreed to a two-year, $21MM deal in free agency, then settled for a two-year, $8.2MM contract with the second year non-guaranteed.
  • Sixers point guard Trey Burke believes he can play effectively with floor leader Ben Simmons, as he told the team’s website. “I think [Ben and I] play off each other pretty well,” he said. “I think I could play the two out there, and give (Josh Richardson) a break, and still be in the game with Ben.” Burke is on a one-year, $2MM contract that doesn’t fully guaranteed unless he remains on the roster through January 10.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Bryant, Washington, Martin

The Wizards may play it safe with regards to Bradley Beal‘s injury, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports writes. Beal left Thursday’s contest against the Pistons with lower right leg soreness and while it doesn’t sound like it will be a debilitating injury, it makes sense for the 9-21 Wizards to be as cautious as possible with their franchise star.

Beal is questionable for Saturday’s contest vs. the Knicks. Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Thomas Bryant said he doesn’t have an exact return date, but he is “very, very close” to returning, The Athletic’s Fred Katz tweets. Bryant practiced with the Wizards today and will practice with the Capital City Go-Go on Saturday.
  • Isaiah Thomas said he apologized to a lot of people in the Wizards organization for the incident with fans in Philadelphia, including owner Ted Leonsis, Hughes tweets. Thomas served a two-game suspension for the incident.
  • It sounds like PJ Washington will make his way back into the lineup for the Hornets, as Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. The rookie has missed the past few weeks with a broken finger.
  • In a separate piece, Bonnell details how Cody Martin has been exceeding expectations for the Hornets. Charlotte selected the small forward with the No. 36 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
  • Coach Steve Clifford said Al-Farouq Aminu had a “setback” this week in his recovery from a knee injury, John Denton of NBA.com tweets. The Magic signed Aminu to a three-year deal this offseason.