It didn’t take long for Isaiah Thomas to become a fan favorite in Boston, but now, Celtics fans will have to watch him play for one of the team’s fiercest foes.
Thomas was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday in a blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston. Although Thomas will play for a title contender alongside LeBron James, the star guard reportedly took the surprising transaction pretty hard.
In an interview with Ariel Helwani on MMA Hour, NBA legend Isiah Thomas recalled a conversation he had with the two-time All-Star after news of the trade broke.
“I spoke to Isaiah yesterday,” he told Helwani. “Emotionally, he’s hurt. Emotionally, he’s wounded. Now from a basketball standard, he and Kyrie Irving, this will be great for them; they both will do well. But you know, it really was like a punch in the gut because it came out of nowhere. Kyrie was expecting the trade, he was prepared for it. But talking to Isaiah the other night, now he’s scrambling to find out where his kids are going to go to school, trying to find a place to live, and it was just so unexpected for him. And the thing that really just kind of pulled at my heartstrings was, you know, he gave his heart and soul to the Celtics; he gave them everything.”
The former Detroit Piston believes it might be difficult for the 5-foot-8 guard to adjust to Cleveland, considering how deeply he loved the Celtics.
“It’s a business and we all understand it’s a business, but to have it happen in such a way for him, I think it really hurt him,” Thomas said. “And I think it’s going to be difficult for him to trust again, to give that trust, that loyalty, that love to another organization. And I think the Cavaliers are definitely going to have to do some relationship mending to get him back to the point where he loves being where he’s at. He’s a small guy. The thing that gets him over is his love and his passion. If those things are kind of missing a little bit, it’s going to be hard. So Cleveland has some relationship things that they’ve got to do to build that trust.”
Considering Thomas’ current contract, though, Cleveland could wind up just being a pit stop. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent next summer, and as a result of his recent seasons, he certainly will be looking for a max contract. The Cavs likely will focus their attention on retaining James, who can opt out of his deal at next season’s end.
Thomas is no stranger to bouncing around the league, and there’s a good chance he’ll be on his third team in three years heading into the 2018-19 season.
Thumbnail photo via Matt Bush/USA TODAY Sports Images