Call off the Brinks trucks.
Isaiah Thomas is not getting the max deal he had been chattering about in Boston. After averaging 28.9 points per game in 2016-17, he is a mess in 2017-18, and is a bench player for the Los Angeles Lakers. The “King in the Fourth” is now Lonzo Ball’s backup.
Maybe he should go back to Boston.
With the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thomas inexplicably turned into Dion Waiters 2.0. The video (below) of Thomas calling for the ball was tragically reminiscent of Waiters’ viral video where he too shamelessly called for the ball. That was a showing of just how fall Thomas had fallen — and the fall continues.
At this point, Thomas needs the Celtics. He’s lost without Brad Stevens, the man who engineered Thomas’ brief max-deal eligibility in the first place.
Thomas should swallow his pride. He should bury the hatchet with Danny Ainge, who shipped him off to the Cavs. Thomas should put off a long-term deal for a year (or two). He should return to Stevens and the Celtics, and try to win an NBA championship. He should do all that while reinstating himself as one of the league’s elite scorers.
During this hypothetical stint in Boston, he could also prove his hip is fine. That’s the first thing general managers want to see: good health. Once Thomas shows that, he can begin recuperating his value by creating a bigger sample of the work he did with the Celtics from 2015 into 2017.
Admittedly, Kyrie Irving complicates things. But look at Terry Rozier, the Celtics’ backup point guard. He went off for 30 points when Irving was dealing with an injury. Heck, Rozier is averaging almost as many points per game (10.1) as Thomas is in Los Angeles (10.7). And Thomas is a better player than Rozier. The Celtics would find ways to get Thomas on the court with and without Irving.
Could Thomas make more money elsewhere next year? No doubt. A bad team could bring him in to be their stud. But he’d be cashing in at a moment when his market value has gotten destroyed. He’d disappear into NBA irrelevance if he really wants something close to a mega-deal. But Thomas shouldn’t want to go back to the Phoenix Suns to average 25 points per game. That’d be a shame.
He should go to Boston where he’d have to accept a disappointing lack of financial security. But he’d be betting big on himself — and Stevens, who has deployed Thomas better than anyone in the guard’s career.
Back in Boston, Stevens could revive the NBA’s version of Julian Edelman.