Revamped Isaiah Thomas Could Be a Boston Celtics Bench Fix

Isaiah Thomas with the Celtics in 2017

Getty Isaiah Thomas with the Celtics in 2017

When Isaiah Thomas left the Celtics in the NBA‘s summer of 2017, a key piece that the team sent to the Cavaliers for point guard Kyrie Irving, the departure did not occur on the best of terms. Thomas had expected the Celtics to take care of him in free agency, especially after he averaged 28.9 points and earned an All-Star spot the previous year, suiting up in the playoffs despite a hip injury and the death of his sister.

Instead, the Celtics dealt him, he never quite fit with the Cavaliers and his hip problem worsened. Thomas went through four teams (the Cavs, Lakers, Nuggets, and Wizards) in the last three years and when the Wizards released him in February, he was not picked up.

But Thomas is looking to make a comeback. Back in May, during his time away from the game, he had his hip resurfaced, which has taken away the nagging pain that has been so troublesome for him. He told ESPN that the difference has been, “night and day.”

“For three years, I was trying to play the best players in the world on one leg,” Thomas said.

Isaiah Thomas Could Boost a Weak Celtics Bench

Thomas could have difficulty finding a team because he is a defensive liability at just 5-foot-9 and is at his most effective when he can be a volume scorer. He did show a sharp 3-point shot last year, making 41.3% from the arc.

Thomas could be a fit for a Celtics bench that was lacking in scoring punch last year. The Celtics were 29th in scoring by bench players, at 28.5 points. They managed that situation by always having a scoring starter on the floor with the second unit, but a productive bench scorer could help in situations where the starters are sluggish offensively.

The Celtics will not have much money to offer free agents in the offseason and will be mindful of giving out any long-term contracts with Jayson Tatum due to get a massive contract extension. A low-cost gamble on Thomas could bring a good payoff if he is, indeed, healthy and willing to accept a bench role.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘I Hold No Grudges’

Thomas did want to sign on with a playoff team back when the Wizards cut him loose. He would have put off the hip resurfacing until after the season.

Initially, Thomas held onto some bitterness about the way he was treated by the Celtics, and said he “might not ever” speak with Celtics president Danny Ainge again. That softened the following year, in 2018, when Thomas said he would be open to a return to Boston.

After his release from the Wizards, Thomas again said he would be willing to sign with the Celtics if the interest was there.

“For sure, if the opportunity presented itself,” he told Hoopshype. “I hold no grudges, and they know that. I have genuine love for the city of Boston. If that were to happen, I’d love to be part of what they have going on. You never know. I’m always open for any opportunity to be in the NBA and play the game that I love at the highest level. If that opportunity presents itself, for sure. Time has passed.”

It is a longshot he will be back in Boston. But there is, at least, a chance.

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