Isaiah Thomas Called Danny Ainge, Talked Celtics Return Before Joining Nuggets

Isaiah Thomas and Danny Ainge didn’t part ways on the best terms. But it appears there are no hard feelings.

In an interview with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski published Sunday, Thomas said he reached out to Ainge this summer while he was a free agent and talked with the Celtics’ president of basketball operations for 15 to 20 minutes about the possibility of signing with Boston this season.

“If the opportunity is there, I would just like to let you know that I’d love to come back,” Thomas said he told Ainge.

According to Wojnarowski, Ainge’s “mind was open to the idea” of re-signing Thomas, who played the best basketball of his career with the Celtics from 2014 to 2017. But the timing just didn’t work out: The C’s needed to lock up restricted free agent Marcus Smart before extending an offer to Thomas and didn’t finalize their deal with Smart until last Thursday.

By that point, Thomas already had signed a one-year contract with the Denver Nuggets for the veteran minimum of $2.3 million.

“S—, I’d have gone back (to Boston),” Thomas told Wojnarowski. “I don’t hold grudges.”

As crazy as this would have sounded a year ago, it’s unclear if the 29-year-old would have been a good fit for the Celtics, who return Smart, perennial All-Star Kyrie Irving and budding backup Terry Rozier to a crowded backcourt.

But Thomas’ stock has dropped significantly since he played through a hip injury during the 2017 postseason with Boston. He since has needed two major operations and played in just 32 games combined for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers last season.

Thomas admitted he probably should have sat out the 2017 playoffs, adding, “I don’t think Boston went about (my injury) the right way, as well.”

Yet the nine-year veteran apparently was willing to let bygones be bygones for a shot at a fresh start.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

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