Isaiah Thomas has yet to play a game for the Celtics, but the man running the show in Boston has had his eye on the 26-year-old point guard since Thomas’ college days at the University of Washington.
That man would be Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who finally landed Thomas in a trade-deadline deal with the Phoenix Suns on Thursday after failing to do so in free agency last summer.
“Even before … the draft, he watched me in the Maui Invitational,” Thomas said Sunday at shootaround, via MassLive.com, “and he thought I was just as good as (then-UConn star) Kemba Walker. He told me that. So, I’ve known he’s wanted me for a long time, and I’m just happy to be somewhere that I’m wanted.
“Hopefully, I’m here for a while.”
Thomas wasn’t available for Friday’s loss to the Sacramento Kings (he actually watched the game with Ainge, he said), but he’s good to go for Sunday night, when the Celtics visit the Los Angeles Lakers. Head coach Brad Stevens said Boston’s other two deadline acquisitions, Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome, should be active for the Lakers matchup, as well.
UPDATE (8:05 p.m.) — Jerebko’s debut might have to wait.
All three newcomers will begin their respective Celtics tenures on the bench, as Stevens said he’s sticking with rookie Marcus Smart as his starting point guard, at least for the time being.
It’ll be interesting to see what Boston’s guard rotation will look like now with Thomas, who averaged 15.2 points over 46 games with the Suns, joining Smart and Avery Bradley in the backcourt. The new guy is confident chemistry-building won’t be an issue, though.
“I fit in with anybody,” Thomas said. “You got a basketball and a hoop, I’ll fit in. As long as it’s about competition and may the best man win, I’m all for it. At the end of the day, when it’s about winning, that’s what it should be about.”
It certainly helps that Thomas already has a long-standing friendship with Bradley. The two grew up together in Tacoma, Wash., and Bradley had been keeping Thomas apprised over the years of the Celtics’ interest in him.
“He’s always told me that Danny Ainge wanted me,” Thomas said. “I’ve heard that from him, my agent, everybody in the NBA, it feels like. He’s always told me that.”
Thumbnail photo via Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports Images
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