Celtics

NBA Notebook: Cavs continue to put Isaiah Thomas in a tough spot

(Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports)

When the Celtics initially elected to trade Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the 2018 Brooklyn first round pick for Kyrie Irving back in August, the status of Thomas’s injured hip was not a main focus of the deal. The Celtics wanted a young superstar to build with over the next decade, and Irving was an ideal fit on that front.

While moving on from Thomas was a tough decision (in addition to everything else they gave up), the condition of the point guard's hip did not seem to be (publicly) a major motivating factor for Boston in trading him. Whether it was the looming free agency of Thomas next summer or his age (28), Irving was a better building block in the mind of the Celtics’ brass. Thomas wasn’t considered to be damaged goods in the deal, he was just a guy who may miss some time next season as he recovered from a hip injury.

That mindset obviously changed in the week of turmoil following the original trade agreement between the Cavs and Celtics. Cleveland’s front office publicly leaked their concerns about Thomas’s hip in an effort to gain some leverage in renegotiation attempts with the Celtics. Those tactics failed for the most part (an extra second-round pick can’t be considered a major win for them), but more importantly, the saga created all sorts of question marks about the long-term health of Thomas. The Cavs dragged the point guard’s status into focus with the whole NBA world watching, making his condition (both now and in the future) a focal point in the aftermath of the deal.

All of those tactics created an interesting backdrop for Thursday’s introductory press conference with Thomas, Crowder and Zizic. Serious uncertainty remained about the status of Thomas heading in, questions the Cavs themselves elected to made public in the past week through largely their own choosing. Some members of the national media wrote well-researched speculation pieces about the timing of the Thomas injury and questioned just how well Thomas would be able to recover in the coming months and years.  However, Cavs general manager Koby Altman did little to put any of those concerns to rest with his comments in the presser, outside of admitting the team had no plans to have Thomas undergo surgery.