Isiah Thomas

Community Shootaround: Best Point Guard Ever

Stephen Curry isn’t reluctant to stake his claim as one of the best point guards in NBA history. The Warriors star put himself in elite company during a recent appearance on Gilbert Arenas’ podcast.

“It’s me and Magic (Johnson), is that the conversation? Obviously, I have to answer that way,” Curry said in response to a question from Arenas. “Magic’s resume is ridiculous. So the fact that we’re having that conversation, that’s the place I never thought I’d be in.”

Both players are obviously on the short list of legendary point guards. They amassed a wealth of titles and individual honors throughout their careers, and both significantly changed the way the game is played.

Curry is a four-time champion, a two-time scoring leader, a nine-time All-Star and a two-time MVP who was the first player in league history to win the award in a unanimous vote. He has 21,712 career points, 5,740 assists and a record 3,390 three-pointers, and at age 35 he still has time to add to those numbers.

Johnson was among the most dynamic players of the 1980s and the catalyst for the “Showtime” Lakers. He was an All-Star in 10 of his first 11 seasons, missing only because of injury, before HIV forced him into his first retirement in 1991. He won five titles, three MVP awards and three Finals MVP honors. With 17,707 career points and 10,141 assists, Johnson was voted onto the league’s 50th and 75th anniversary teams.

While Curry and Johnson are strong candidates, there are plenty of others to consider:

  • In the 1960s and early ’70s, Oscar Robertson was routinely putting up triple-doubles before it was celebrated as a stat. The 1964 MVP spent most of his career with the Cincinnati Royals before winning his only NBA title with the Bucks in 1971. He was an All-Star in his first 12 NBA seasons, being named MVP of the game three times, and was a nine-time first-team All-NBA selection.
  • Lakers star Jerry West was a contemporary of Robertson’s and his rival as the best guard in the game at the time. West was an All-Star in all 14 of his NBA seasons and was an All-NBA selection 12 times. He was named Finals MVP in 1969 even though the Lakers lost the series, then won his only championship in 1972.
  • John Stockton is the NBA’s career leader in assists with 15,806 and led the league in that category for nine straight seasons. The 10-time All-Star is also the league’s all-time steals champ with 3,265 and was named to the All-Defensive Team five times. He spent his entire 19-year career with the Jazz and remained productive through age 40.
  • Isiah Thomas led the “Bad Boy” Pistons to titles in 1989 and 1990 at a time when the Lakers and Celtics were dominating the league. The 12-time All-Star was named Finals MVP in 1990 and twice captured All-Star MVP honors.
  • Chris Paul is the only active point guard with a resume similar to Curry’s, although without a similar level of playoff success. A 12-time All-Star, Paul led the NBA in assists five times and in steals six times. He’s an 11-time All-NBA and nine-time All-Defensive Team selection.
  • Steve Nash is a two-time MVP who also revolutionized the game with his accomplishments in Phoenix. An eight-time All-Star and seven-time All-NBA selection, he reached the 50-40-90 club as a shooter four times in his career.

There are many more to consider, such as Bob Cousy, Walt Frazier, Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, Nate Archibald, Pete Maravich and others, and we could go on much longer about their place in the history of the league. But we want to get your opinion. Who’s really the best point guard that has ever played? Please leave your response in the space below.

Pacific Notes: Ishbia, Suns, Christie, Clippers, Vezenkov

Chris Paul caused a stir last month when he repeatedly said Isiah Thomas was involved in the Suns‘ decision to trade him for Bradley Beal, but owner Mat Ishbia says Thomas had no role in the deal.

When decisions are made in the organization, (president of basketball operations and GM) James Jones, myself, (CEO) Josh Bartelstein, (head coach) Frank Vogel, our executive team make decisions,” Ishbia told Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “Outside people don’t have any role in our decision-making process. They never have, they never will. I’ve asked for advice from a lot of people, specifically Tom Izzo, Isiah Thomas, Mateen Cleaves, Charlie Bell. I talk to a lot of people, but honestly, on this situation, not one of those people were consulted on this decision.”

In an Insider-only article for ESPN, Brian Windhorst takes a look at Ishbia’s active involvement in the Suns organization. Sources tell Windhorst that Thomas has spent time informally advising in Phoenix, but his unofficial role has been reduced in recent weeks after the team filled out its front office. Windhorst’s sources confirm that Thomas was not involved in the Beal/Paul trade.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Lakers wing Max Christie has been excelling during Summer League action, and he hopes that his work this offseason will lead to more minutes in 2023/24, which will be his second NBA season. “I just want to be in the rotation and play as much as possible,” Christie told Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “I just want to play as much basketball as I can. Last year was motivation to get to that spot. That’s really all it is. That’s my mission. That’s my goal.” The 20-year-old has put on about 15 pounds of muscle since he was drafted last year, Buha adds. In another article for The Athletic, Buha examines the Lakers’ depth chart, with Christie currently slotting in as the backup shooting guard behind Austin Reaves.
  • Should the Clippers offer contract extensions to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George? Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times spoke to rival executives and an agent to solicit opinions on what path the Clippers should take with their oft-injured star duo.
  • In an interview with, reigning EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov talked about his decision to sign with the Kings and being an NBA rookie at 27 years old. “It’s a dream and a potential,” the forward said as part of larger quote. “Because I’m not doing this just for living the NBA dream. In any dream, I see potential. A potential that can teach me something and evolve me. I’m not going to the USA to come back soon. I want to be tested in the NBA. I’m thinking about everything positively. I’ll start at zero. Now, the work I’ll do will be even bigger. I know what I’ve been through and how much I’ve worked. You can’t buy experience. I think the circumstances are the best.”

Suns Notes: Ayton, Landale, Okogie, Craig, Warren, More

If they move Deandre Ayton this offseason, the Suns‘ preference would be to get multiple depth pieces in return rather than simply trading his contract to a cap-room team and acquiring a draft pick or two, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 told Michael Scotto in the latest episode of the HoopsHype podcast.

As the Suns look to fill out their roster following the Bradley Beal blockbuster, they’ll also have interest in re-signing free agents like Jock Landale, Josh Okogie, and Torrey Craig, according to Gambadoro, though he says T.J. Warren is expected to be let go. Scotto confirms that Landale and the Suns have mutual interest in a new deal, with Gambadoro suggesting that the team “really” likes having the big man as its backup center.

Gambadoro and Scotto also discussed several other Suns-related topics during the podcast, including Isiah Thomas‘ unofficial role with the franchise, which Chris Paul alluded to in an interview with The New York Times.

As Gambadoro explains, Thomas isn’t going to be brought into the fold officially in a front office position, but he’s a trusted confidant for new owner Mat Ishbia, who will likely continue soliciting Thomas’ input and bouncing ideas off of him. Longtime Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is another Ishbia confidant, Gambadoro adds.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • During the HoopsHype podcast, Gambadoro also discussed the tension that existed between former Suns head coach Monty Williams and players like Jae Crowder and Ayton. “The Jae Crowder situation was all on Monty. He told people he was too difficult to handle and coach. Monty didn’t want Jae. It wasn’t the Suns organization. He didn’t want Jae around,” Gambadoro said. “As far as Deandre Ayton, Monty didn’t want him either. He wanted them to trade him to Indiana for Myles Turner. He didn’t like coaching Ayton. … Monty’s a good coach and a player’s coach, but he’s a player’s coach for the players he likes, but he wasn’t in on Jae and Deandre.”
  • The Suns are counting on having a second-round pick in Thursday’s draft, tweets Gambadoro. It will either be No. 52 – Phoenix’s current selection– or No. 57, if the Suns and Wizards swap late second-rounders as part of the Beal trade.
  • Ian Begley of reported that the Suns – before acquiring Beal – were among the teams to reach out to the Mavericks earlier this offseason to inquire about a possible Kyrie Irving sign-and-trade. However, Gambadoro shot down that report, tweeting that it “never happened.” Either way, with Beal in the fold, an Irving pursuit is definitely off the table.
  • Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic takes a look at what sort of traits the Suns will be looking for as they attempt to fill out their roster on the cheap. The team could use at least one more wing shooter, a big man who can stretch the floor and rebound, and a defensive stopper, writes Rankin.
  • Eugene German, a former Northern Illinois Star who spent last season playing in China, will work out for the Suns on June 28, a source tells Sean Paul of Mountain West Wire (Twitter link).

Chris Paul Claims Isiah Thomas Influenced Beal Blockbuster

Chris Paul believes Hall of Famer and former NBA executive Isiah Thomas played a role in the Wizards’ unofficial blockbuster trade with the Suns. Paul repeatedly told Sopan Deb of the New York Times that Suns owner Mat Ishbia and Thomas “wanted to go in a different direction.”

Thomas is good friends with Ishbia but doesn’t have an official role with Phoenix.

Paul, mainly due to his salary, was included in the trade that sent Bradley Beal to the Suns. The Wizards are reportedly looking to involve a third team and re-route Paul to a contending club.

Paul said he learned of the trade via a text from his 14-year-old son while he was flying to New York, where he’s embarking on a promotional tour for his new book. Even though the Suns had been mulling their options regarding Paul and his partially guaranteed contract, the trade “surprised” him.

“I really haven’t had enough time to process it yet. Like seriously, because these things that happen affect more than just me,” said Paul, who had been in contact with Suns president of basketball operations James Jones the previous day.

Paul added, “Like I said, Mat and Isiah, they want to go in a different direction. But my time there has been amazing.”

Paul’s comments suggest that not only did Ishbia push to acquire Beal but that Thomas has a major influence on his thinking, with his voice counting more than anyone in the front office.

In early February, a report surfaced that Ishbia planned to hire Thomas for a prominent role in the front office. Thomas is on the board of directors of United Wholesale Mortgage, Ishbia’s company. However, the Suns soon shot down the rumor that Thomas would have an official role with the Suns.

Thomas hasn’t had an official front office position in the NBA since he was the Knicks’ president of basketball operations from 2003-08.

Suns Owner Ishbia On Vision, Roster, Trade Deadline, More

Mat Ishbia was approved this week by the NBA’s Board of Governors and is now officially the new majority owner of the Suns. He recently had an interview with Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (subscriber link) that covered a number of topics.

We have provided a few highlights below, but the full interview is worth checking out for any Suns fans.

On his vision for the Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury:

“I know that I’m the new owner, but I look at it like the Mercury and the Suns are owned by the city, by Phoenix, and my job is a steward. How do I do the right thing by them, make it a community asset, how do I take care of it and build it into a thing that the community can be proud of? As an owner, my job is to do the right things by the community. Do the right things by the fans, do the right things by the ‘team members’ as I call them and then finally, we’ll have a culture of winning on the court, off the court. Winning the fan experience, winning the sponsorship deal, winning all the things.

“… The real vision, long term, is how do we make Phoenix the elite NBA franchise in the country? We can do it. We have the market, we have the people, we have the organization. We are going to do that and that’s the goal and how do I (do it) measuredly? That’s one of the things I’ll put together here in the near future, but we are going to make it the elite NBA franchise and that’s the goal. Why not us?”

On how aggressive he’ll be at the trade deadline (Feb. 9 at 2:00pm CT) and in free agency this summer:

“I’m very active. And I’ll say this. I gave you the four things that I’m all about. None of them were profit. It’s all about team member experience, fan experience, community engagement and winning. There’s no money involved. Money follows success, not the other way around. I’m focused on winning. I’m focused on doing the right thing, not just short term. So I’m going to make good, long-term things, but remember, I also said the word culture, too. I need cultural fits that are about winning, that have long-term opportunity as a team, and I think you’ll see.

“You never know. I still got 2½ days left to go … but I’m extremely active. … We obviously have one player (Jae Crowder) that we have to move. This team, from my personal perspective, we have a championship-caliber team right now with no changes. If I can take an upgrade from a player that is not playing to a player that is playing, we’ve gotten even closer and if I can do more than that, I’m sure that would be even better.”

On what he hopes to establish in his first 90 days:

“I’m a big listener and learner. … I’m coming in to learn. I’m coming in to find out who the people are, find out who is ready, who is doing great things, who are the people who want to be part of this the right way, the long term. Who aligns with the vision that I’m going to set for the organization, which I’m going to be very clear with what I look for and how we look for it.

“And there are things I’m going to learn ’cause you know what, I’m not coming in making a bunch of changes. There will be very few changes between now and the end of the season. I’m coming in, listening, learning, finding out what the organization is about. Finding out who the people are, finding out who is passionate, who cares about the fan experience the way we think. Who is going to align and who doesn’t want to be a part of it and we’re going to figure all that stuff out.”

Ishbia’s introductory press conference is currently ongoing. According to Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports (Twitter link), Ishbia denied the report that Isiah Thomas would be part of the organization. He said Thomas is a “great friend,” but “there’s nothing happening right now.”

Suns Spokesperson Denies Team Hiring Isiah Thomas

7:50pm: A spokesperson for Ishbia tells Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link) that while Ishbia and Thomas are friends, Thomas will not be part of the Suns’ front office.

7:02pm: New Suns owner Mat Ishbia is planning to hire NBA TV analyst Isiah Thomas for a “prominent role” in the team’s front office, sources tell Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT (Twitter link).

According to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic (Twitter link), Thomas is on the board of directors of United Wholesale Mortgage, Ishbia’s company, so the two are obviously familiar with one another.

Thomas, who is in the Hall of Fame, is widely considered one of the greatest point guards in NBA history. He spent his entire 13-year career with the Pistons, which included two championships and 12 All-Star appearances.

The 61-year-old became a front office executive with the Raptors from 1994-97 after his playing days ended. Thomas also coached the Pacers from 2000-03 and was the Knicks’ president of basketball operations from 2003-08 (and their coach from 2006-08), so he certainly has a lot of experience.

However, his time in New York was controversial. As Vorkunov notes (via Twitter), in 2007 a Manhattan jury found that Thomas sexually harassed a former Knicks executive, who was improperly fired for reporting the unwanted behavior. The victim was awarded $11.6MM as part of the lawsuit.

Thomas’ tenure with the Knicks was also lousy from an on-court perspective. The team went just 151-259 during his five seasons as the lead basketball executive, a .368 winning percentage.

Hiring someone accused of sexual harassment and creating a hostile working environment is a pretty terrible look for Ishbia’s first move as an owner, considering the reason he was able to buy the Suns is because former owner Robert Sarver was suspended for one year and fined $10MM for engaging in behavior that “clearly violated common workplace standards.”

Community Shootaround: Kyrie Irving Drama Just Starting

Kyrie Irving has a new home as the disgruntled Cavaliers All-Star was traded to the Celtics as part of a four-player trade that also sends the Nets‘ unprotected 2018 first-round pick to Cleveland. On the surface, it seems that the Irving saga is over; all involved parties can move on, and things can retain a sense of normalcy.


This latest chapter is just beginning as the trade and its ramifications will be examined under a microscope that won’t even reflect Isaiah Thomas’ alleged growth spurt.  Thomas, who will head to Cleveland as part of the trade, will do so with questions surrounding his hip — the same hip that caused him to miss most of the playoffs in 2016/17. Celtics general manager Danny Ainge spoke to reporters, including ESPN’s Jeff Goodman (Twitter link) on a conference call Tuesday night and indicated that Thomas’ troubled hip played “some” part in the decision to consummate a deal.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets that the Celtics expected a mix of rehab and rest would bring Thomas back to full health. Now, the Cavaliers plan with Thomas is to “monitor closely” as he recovers, adding that the team is “anxious” to give him a physical. However, Wojnarowski adds that Cleveland has “no short term concerns” with Thomas’ hip and instead view him as a player entering his contract year with extra motivation.

Thomas indicated multiple times this offseason that his goal is to land a maximum contract in free agency. In an interview with Stephen Hewitt of the Boston Herald earlier this month, Thomas said he feels confident about landing a max deal.

“Very confident,” Thomas said. “I deserve it. I put the work in, and you can put me down against any guard in the NBA. . . . My numbers are up there with the best players in the world, and my team is winning. So, I mean, you have to reward that.”

Thomas, 28, is not the only player in the deal who will reach free agency soon. Irving is set to hit the open market in 2019, but Wojnarowski reported that Irving is “thrilled” to join Boston and that the Celtics made the deal with a “great chance” to re-sign him (Twitter Link).

“Kyrie is one of the best scorers in the NBA. He has proven that on the biggest stage, the NBA Finals, the last three years,” Ainge said in a press release announcing the trade. “He’s been an NBA champion, an Olympic Gold Medalist, and a four-time All-Star. For all he’s accomplished, we think his best years are ahead of him.”

Factoring in the rest of Cleveland’s return (Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the aforementioned draft pick), the team secured a sizeable haul in exchange for a player who, for all his talented, reportedly wanted out. Pairing a healthy Thomas with Crowder’s defense along with LeBron James, Kevin Love and lower-tier talents like Derrick Rose and Tristan Thompson makes for a dynamic team.

Likewise, adding Irving to a group that includes Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown gives Boston a young, athletic, and yet still seasoned core of talent.

Whether or not that draft pick lands Cleveland a game-changing talent, Thomas or Irving re-sign with their new teams, or if any of the secondary pieces pan out will  the be major storylines to watch. The analysis of this trade will take on a new life when the Cavaliers welcome the Celtics to Cleveland on opening night October 17.

Do you think this trade works out well for both sides? Do you think Thomas’ hip injury will be an issue? Will Irving cement himself as Boston’s primary option? Sound off in the comments below!

Knicks Rumors: Ujiri, Griffin, Carmelo, Mills, KP

Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri was immediately identified as the Knicks’ top target to replace Phil Jackson when the Knicks parted ways with Jackson earlier this week, but it appears Ujiri won’t be going anywhere. As Ramona Shelburne of writes, the Knicks are no longer expected to ask for the Raptors’ permission to speak to Ujiri.

According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, one league source said that the Raptors would have asked for multiple draft picks, including a first-rounder, as compensation if the Knicks wanted to hire Ujiri. As such, the team appears to have shifted its focus to David Griffin and other candidates. Shelburne cites sources who say that Griffin has spoken to the Knicks, and is expected to have more discussions when New York moves to the next level of its search process. The club is currently assembling a list of candidates for the job.

Here’s more out of New York:

  • An NBA source tells Berman that the Knicks are unlikely to do anything with Carmelo Anthony until a new president of basketball operations is hired.
  • Current GM Steve Mills is expected to remain with the team no matter who is hired as president, according to Berman.
  • In a separate piece for The New York Post, Berman breaks down the free agency landscape for the Knicks, noting that the team may have more options with Jackson out of the picture.
  • According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), Isiah Thomas isn’t considered a candidate for the Knicks’ job, but still has owner James Dolan‘s ear as an advisor. Kyler adds (via Twitter) that Ujiri and Thunder president Sam Presti were considered “pie-in-the-sky” candidates.
  • While the pre-draft Kristaps Porzingis rumors were viewed by some observers as Jackson sending a “message” to the young big man, several members of the organization besides Jackson were in favor of a trade, sources tell Ian Begley of Still, the possibility of a Porzingis trade will likely die if the team can get back on the same page with him.
  • The Knicks have strong interest in bringing back Justin Holiday, and some members of the organization consider George Hill a free agent of interest, according to Begley. Both Begley and Berman also identify P.J. Tucker as a probably free agent target for the club.

Knicks Rumors: Thomas, Ujiri, Griffin, Presti

10:42pm: The Knicks have since been in touch with Griffin and the ex-Cavs general manager will be among New York’s initial interviews, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN tweets.

11:01am: Given how his first stint as the Knicks’ general manager went, Isiah Thomas would seem to be an extremely unlikely candidate to replace Phil Jackson for the team’s head front office job this offseason. Marc Berman of The New York Post confirmed as much on Wednesday, writing that Thomas wasn’t being considered.

However, at least one person close to the franchise isn’t so sure Thomas is entirely out of the running, according to Frank Isola of The New York Daily News, who says his source described the former Knicks GM as “a dark horse candidate” to fill the current opening (Twitter link). While that revelation may inspire some panic among Knicks fans, it’s worth noting that the “dark horse” descriptor suggests Thomas probably isn’t at the top of James Dolan‘s wish list.

Here’s more on the Knicks’ search for a new president of basketball operations:

  • The Knicks’ interest in Raptors president Masai Ujiri is real, but Ujiri is entering the second year of a five-year, $32MM contract in Toronto, says Sam Amick of USA Today. A source close to ownership of MLSE – the group that owns the Raptors – tells Michael Grange of Sportsnet not to even bother with the Ujiri rumors, but Grange hears from an NBA source that the Knicks will nonetheless be “coming hard” for the Raptors’ president.
  • Having received a second-round pick as compensation when Orlando hired away GM Jeff Weltman, the Raptors would certainly ask for even more compensation if the Knicks wanted to hire Ujiri, and New York would be very unlikely to consider that, according to Ramona Shelburne of
  • A league source informed ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that Jerry West intended to reach out to Tim Leiweke, who is running the Knicks’ search, to endorse David Griffin as a candidate for New York’s opening. According to ESPN’s report, Griffin has “long coveted” an opportunity like the Knicks’ job. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Knicks hadn’t formally reached out to Griffin or his agent, but had begun doing background research on him, per ESPN.
  • Thunder president of basketball operations Sam Presti has been internally discussed by the Knicks as a possible target, tweets Ian Begley of Like Ujiri, Presti is under contract with another NBA team and that club would likely require compensation, though the exact terms of his deal aren’t known.

Reaction To Phil Jackson’s Firing

Phil Jackson is gone, but owner James Dolan’s next move will determine how soon the Knicks can rebuild, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. It’s not clear yet whom New York is targeting to take Jackson’s place, but the author points out that Dolan has a history of poor decisions when it comes to choosing someone to run his basketball team. An obvious choice, Bontemps notes, is former Cavaliers GM David Griffin, who couldn’t reach a new agreement in Cleveland.

GM Steve Mills will run the Knicks until a new president is hired, and Bontemps says he should start building the team around Kristaps Porzingis. He adds that Jackson’s feud with Porzingis, not the long-running one with Carmelo Anthony, is what led to today’s decision. Jackson shopped Porzingis around the league last week, and although there was plenty of interest, no offers were deemed acceptable.