Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas Says He’s Discussed A Comeback With Several Teams

Free agent guard Isaiah Thomas says he has talked to a few teams about a possible return to the NBA, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Thomas, who will turn 32 next month, has been out of the league since last February, when he was waived by the Clippers after they acquired him from the Wizards in a three-team trade. Thomas played 40 games for Washington last season, averaging 12.2 points and 3.7 assists while shooting 41.3% from 3-point range.

He underwent hip surgery in May and declared that it relieved the “relentless” pain he had been living with.

Thomas averaged 28.9 points per game for the Celtics during 2016/17, but he hasn’t been the same since suffering a hip injury midway through that season. He has played for four teams over the past three years.

As his comeback attempt continues, Thomas will have new representation, Haynes adds. After parting ways with Excel Sports Management earlier this month, Thomas said he recently hired Bernie Lee of Quartexx Basketball.

Thomas had apparently been hoping to return to the Celtics, particularly with starting point guard Kemba Walker out of action, according to Matt Vautour of MassLive. Thomas recently responded to a Boston Globe article about the team’s need for more bench scoring by posting, “I could definitely help with that! Ima just keep workin though.” 

However, Vautour notes that the emergence of rookie guard Payton Pritchard has made that unlikely, and Thomas has since deleted the tweet.

And-Ones: Montgomery, Thomas, NCAA Tourney, 2021 Draft

Former Kentucky forward E.J. Montgomery, who was in training camp with the Bucks last month, has signed with Lithuanian team BC Nevezis, according to an announcement from the club (Twitter link).

After going undrafted in 2020 following his sophomore season with the Wildcats, Montgomery caught on with Milwaukee on a non-guaranteed camp deal, but was cut on December 16. While the Bucks may have, at one point, envisioned Montgomery as a potential G League affiliate player, the Wisconsin Herd opted out of the NBAGL’s bubble plan for 2020/21, opening the door for the 21-year-old to pursue another professional opportunity.

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

  • Isaiah Thomas and Excel Sports Management have parted ways, as the free agent point guard continues to seek an NBA comeback, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Presumably, Thomas will hire new representation to spearhead the effort to land him an NBA job.
  • The NCAA was forced to cancel March Madness in 2020, but the 2021 event is still scheduled to tip off in mid-March. According to a press release from the NCAA, the plan is for the entire tournament to take place in Indiana to reduce the coronavirus risk associated with travel.
  • Michael Scotto of HoopsHype spoke to a handful of player agents and team executives about what it looks like when a player requests a trade and how the process typically plays out behind the scenes.
  • Draft expert Jeff Goodman of Stadium has unveiled his big board for the 2021 NBA draft, which is headed by Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs. Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State), Jalen Green (G League Ignite), Evan Mobley (USC), and Jonathan Kuminga (G League Ignite) fill out Goodman’s initial top five. The same five prospects are atop ESPN’s big board, albeit in a different order.

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Irving, Nets, DSJ, Celtics

Nets forward Kevin Durant won’t be active on Monday night for the second game in the team’s first back-to-back set of the 2020/21 season, as Malika Andrews of ESPN writes. Durant had said over the weekend that he hoped to play in back-to-back games this season, despite coming off an Achilles tear, but he’s being held out tonight due to “injury recovery,” per the NBA’s official injury report.

“I definitely want to be able to play back-to-backs,” Durant said after Sunday’s game, per Andrews. “Get through ’em healthy and play my normal minutes, so we’ll see.”

While Durant may get a chance to play both halves of back-to-back sets later in the season, the Nets are clearly playing it safe with their top players to start the year. Kyrie Irving will also miss Monday’s game vs. Memphis for rest purposes, according to the club (Twitter link via Shams Charania of The Athletic).

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic takes a look at how Spencer Dinwiddie‘s ACL injury will affect the Nets, noting that the team will have to change up its starting lineup and also may not have as many in-season trade options available without a healthy Dinwiddie to put on the table.
  • Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr., who has appeared in just one of the team’s three games so far, will remain in New York to continue rehabbing his left quad contusion, per the club (Twitter link). The hope is that Smith rejoins the Knicks at some point during their four-game road trip, which begins on Tuesday in Cleveland and runs through next Monday in Atlanta.
  • The Celtics‘ bench – an Achilles heel for the team in 2019/20 – remains thin this season, especially with Kemba Walker unavailable, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Washburn wonders whether the team would consider opening up a roster spot to create room for a veteran who can score, and suggests that Isaiah Thomas is one free agent who might be a fit.

Kemba Walker To Miss Start Of Season

Celtics point guard Kemba Walker will be sidelined until at least early January as he continues to rehab a left knee injury, according to a team press release.

After consulting several medical specialists in early October, Walker received a stem cell injection in the knee and was put on a 12-week strengthening program. He is expected to return to on-court activities early this month but he won’t be ready to play when the season begins.

Walker was hampered by left knee soreness prior to the stoppage of play in March and it continued to affect him during the restart. GM Danny Ainge admitted that team’s prized free agent acquisition in 2019 was “definitely not himself” during the playoffs.

Walker tried to gut it out and continued to play heavy minutes — he averaged 36.9 MPG in 17 postseason outings. He posted solid averages of 19.6 PPG and 5.1 APG during that span but his perimeter shooting suffered (31.0% from long range).

If Walker’s knee issues continues to linger, it could have a major impact on the team’s bottom line. He is due to make approximately $34.4MM during the upcoming season and $36MM in 2021/22. He has a $37.7MM option for the 2022/23 season.

However, Ainge believes Walker’s won’t miss too much time, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston tweets. Ainge talked about Walker on the Toucher and Rich radio show.

“I’m not worried about Kemba. He’ll be back,” Ainge said. “It’s an opportunity for Marcus (Smart), Jeff Teague, Payton Pritchard.”

Ainge feels the team has plenty of depth at that spot and doesn’t plan to pursue former Boston All-Star and current free agent Isaiah Thomas.

The press release also revealed that center Tristan Thompson suffered a minor hamstring strain during an offseason workout prior to arriving in Boston, and his availability during the first week of camp will be limited. Boston officially signed the former Cleveland big man on Monday.

Guard Romeo Langford‘s rehab from right wrist is going according to plan, the release adds. He underwent surgery on September 22nd to repair a torn scapholunate ligament in the wrist and the projected recovery time remains 4-5 months.

Free Agent Rumors: Batum, Thomas, Mudiay, Ferrell, Briscoe

The Hornets plan to waive Nicolas Batum and use the stretch provision on his $27.1MM contract for the upcoming season in order to sign Gordon Hayward, unless they can figure out a sign-and-trade deal that would save them from stretching Batum.

Assuming he’s released, Batum shouldn’t have trouble finding a new home. His agent, Jeremy Medjana, told Basket Session that the Warriors, Jazz, Clippers, Bucks and Raptors are interested in signing him once he clears waivers (hat tip to Frank Urbina of HoopsHype). Batum, who has played for Charlotte the past five seasons, only appeared in 22 games last season.

Here are more free agency notes and rumors:

  • Former MVP candidate Isaiah Thomas said his latest hip procedure was a success and he’s eager to prove it, the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach reports. Thomas says he feels like his former self in workouts. “I was blowing by people,” he said. “I haven’t blown by anybody since I had a Celtics uniform on.” Thomas was waived after the Wizards traded him to the Clippers in February and remains unsigned.
  • Reserve point guards Emmanuel Mudiay and Yogi Ferrell are generating some interest on the free agent market, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Both players could likely be had for the veteran’s minimum.
  • Point guard Isaiah Briscoe hopes to return to the NBA, according to Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw (Twitter link). Briscoe went undrafted out of Kentucky in 2017, but made it onto the Magic’s roster for the 2018/19 season. He spent the 2019/20 season in Poland playing for King Szczecin. In 39 games with Orlando, Briscoe averaged 3.5 PPG, 2.2 APG, and 1.9 RPG, across 14.3 MPG.

Alex Kirschenbaum contributed to this post.

Isaiah Thomas Underwent Hip Procedure, Aiming For 2020/21 Return

Free agent point guard Isaiah Thomas underwent a resurfacing procedure on his right hip in May and expects to be fully healthy for the start of the 2020/21 season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Thomas has dealt with hip problems for the last few seasons, battling a bone-on-bone issue and “relentless” pain, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who notes that the latest procedure is designed to address the injury by including a “unique kind of artificial joint” in the hip.

“It’s like night and day for me,” Thomas told Wojnarowski. “There’s no more pain. I’ve got my full range of motion. For three years, I was trying to play the best players in the world on one leg. I needed help from my kids to put my socks on in the morning.

“Now, I can lift weights. I can squat low. I can work out twice a day. I’m able to cut and move and stop, able to cut and go. I feel like I’m 31 years old again. And now, I have scientific evidence to show that.”

Dr. Edwin Su, an orthopedist based in New York, performed the procedure on Thomas and told ESPN that it already appears to be paying dividends.

“Before the surgery, you could see he was clearly favoring his right side; and that it was painful,” Su said. “It was natural to avoid pushing off and landing off (the left). Four months post-op, we are seeing higher loads and seeing symmetry between the right and left. … Now, he’s playing like he’s eight months out from surgery, not just four. He’s such a hard worker. He’s moving quickly, and able to jump and pivot.”

Since averaging 28.9 PPG and 5.9 APG for the Celtics during the 2016/17 season, Thomas has been limited by health problems and has seen his production drop off significantly.

In 84 games for the Cavaliers, Lakers, Nuggets, and Wizards over the last three seasons, he has recorded just 12.8 PPG and 3.8 APG on 38.6% shooting, and has been rated poorly by defensive metrics. He was waived by the Clippers in February after Washington sent him to L.A. in a deadline deal, and hasn’t been on an NBA roster since then.

It remains to be seen when exactly the NBA 2020’s free agency period will begin and whether coronavirus-related restrictions will prevent Thomas from working out in front of teams. However, the veteran point guard is looking to prove he’s still capable of being a reliable part of a club’s rotation.

“In some ways, the time off because of COVID was a blessing in disguise for my career,” Thomas told Wojnarowski. “It allowed me to take the time to get this procedure done, and get back physically to a level I need to be to compete in the league. I made the right decision to do this, and I’m anxious to show people I can contribute to a team again.”

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