What the Celtics Trading Avery Bradley Means for Isaiah Thomas


The Boston Celtics offseason has turned to one that’s featured headline-making moves, which is pretty surprising after the way it started. Early on in the process, the Celtics were linked to big names like Paul George, Blake Griffin and Gordon Hayward. When George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Griffin re-signed with the Los Angeles Clippers, it was essentially a Hayward-or-bust offseason in Boston.

Fortunately, Gordon Hayward saved the day for the Celtics. His signing not only meant that the team picked up a win in free agency, but most importantly, they’re in a position where they can really challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James for Eastern Conference supremacy.

Overall, it’s hard to argue that the Celtics didn’t come out ahead this offseason, even if they had to trade away Avery Bradley to get the cap number right to sign Hayward.

Throughout this whole process, though, the focus has been on Hayward and his recruitment to town, then the fact that the Celtics had to trade away Bradley. But now, with that process nearly complete and the team’s roster taking shape ahead of the season, the attention should soon turn to star point guard Isaiah Thomas, who’s had a pretty good offseason himself.

How the 2017 NBA Offseason Impacted Isaiah Thomas

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On the surface, it would seem as though this offseason just teamed Thomas up with another playmaker who can help the Celtics compete with the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. And while that’s true, the 2017 offseason has been much more than that to the 28-year-old point guard.

Since joining the Celtics during the 2014-15 season, Thomas has taken his game to a new level. In 2015-16, he averaged 22.2 points with 6.2 assists and in 2016-17 he averaged a career-high 28.9 points with 5.9 assists. There’s no question that Boston is now home for Thomas, and that it’s also a place where he’s found his groove and begun to thrive.

In return for his stellar play over the past two seasons, the Celtics are putting their faith in Thomas moving forward. While they haven’t done so with a big contract yet, that doesn’t mean it’s not coming. This offseason featured two key potential concerns when it came to his future in Boston. The first was the possibility that the team could draft Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, and the second was the fact that his former backcourt mate, Bradley was going to be a free agent for the team next offseason as well.

The Celtics would have had a young up-and-coming point guard in Fultz on a rookie deal and a shooting guard in Bradley who likely would have commanded less money than Thomas on the open market. Realistically, there’s a very good chance that Thomas wouldn’t have been in Boston after the 2017-18 season had the dominoes not fallen how they did this offseason.

What Thomas’ Future Now Looks Like

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After how this offseason unfolded, it’d be pretty shocking if Thomas wasn’t with the Celtics after the 2017-18 season. Boston now has a great trio to lead their charge this coming season and beyond, with a mix of both inside and outside playmakers in Thomas, Hayward and big man Al Horford. If the Celtics can keep this trio together for multiple seasons, there’s a very real chance that they could wind up bringing a title back to Boston.

As for Thomas’ future specifically, the team should likely do everything in their power to sign him to a big contract extension next offseason. The point guard made sure to make his team-first focus known this offseason, as he stated that he wanted the Celtics to sign free agents before talking about his contract, as ESPN’s Chris Forsberg reported.

It was a selfless move by Thomas, and it’s one that’s paid off. The Celtics now have another big-time playmaker in Hayward and multiple young players on their roster, including Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who both should turn into great NBA players. If Thomas were anywhere but Boston in 2018 and beyond, it’d be a major surprise.

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