Shortly before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, Ainge was able to swing a deal to bring Thomas to the Boston Celtics from the Phoenix Suns. In doing so, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations was able to acquire a player he had coveted for a while.
“I’ve always wanted Isaiah,” Ainge told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. “Isaiah was my first call last summer in free agency. Isaiah was a guy I liked in the draft. Isaiah was a guy that was part of discussions when he was at Sacramento.”
Ainge told the Herald he honestly believed the Celtics would stand pat at the deadline, as the Suns had rebuffed his offer for Thomas. But then “Phoenix moved,” an NBA source told Bulpett, allowing the Celtics to secure Thomas for shooting guard Marcus Thornton and the 2016 first-round draft pick Boston received from the Cleveland Cavaliers last summer.
On the court and off, Thomas is an ideal fit for the Celtics. His speed, pick-and-roll execution and willingness to come off the bench suggest he shouldn’t overlap too much with Marcus Smart and therefore impede the rookie’s development. His team-friendly contract also decreases in salary over the next three years, making him the rare player whose value promises to actually increase as time goes on.
For fans, the Celtics finally have the outline of a tangible plan. With Thomas, Smart, Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger, the team has a young core and plenty of payroll flexibility going forward, as well as a hoard of draft picks over the next four years to use as they wish.
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