The Celtics thought they added a new point guard to build around for the future in Kyrie Irving this week, but the health of Isaiah Thomas has put the entire trade in jeopardy. League sources confirmed to Bostonsportsjournal.com that the Cavaliers are considering several options, including vetoing the deal for health reasons after Thomas underwent a physical with the team today in Cleveland. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com was first to report the news Friday evening about the possibility that Thomas could fail his physical with his new team, noting “it’s a very sensitive situation” as the Cavs weigh their options.
Initial analysis: For such a high profile deal that’s been discussed publicly by both sides, this is quite the shocking development. Obviously, any trade in the NBA is contingent on all players involved passing their physicals. The Celtics made no secrets about the status of Thomas in negotiations with Cleveland, and likely paid a premium in their agreed upon offer because of it (Brooklyn 2018 first round pick, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Thomas).
The Celtics definitely felt confident about this deal being cleared by Cleveland in spite of those hip woes, with team ownership, Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens and other employees all commenting extensively on the transaction. Hence, in this situation, the Cavs appear like they could be angling for a bit more of a return in the deal from Boston in a renegotiation, in compensation for questionable health status of Thomas. Otherwise, Cleveland could threaten to fail Thomas in his physical and veto the trade altogether.
The situation creates a massive conundrum for Ainge if it comes to a potential renegotiation to get a deal done. On one hand, he’s already publicly traded two key pieces of his core to a rival and the potential bad blood from Thomas and Crowder towards the Celtics could be an issue if the trade does not go through and Ainge walks away from the table. On the other hand, the Celtics were already sending a hefty offer Cleveland’s way in the initial package and the Cavs knew throughout the negotiations that Thomas had a major hip issue. Will the Celtics view the situation as the Cavs simply trying to squeeze more out of them? Will Ainge be willing to include something else to get things done? There is no clear answer as of yet, but he might have to if he wants to ensure Irving actually becomes a Celtic.