Perhaps the Brinks truck never was coming for Isaiah Thomas.
Thomas recently sat down for an interview with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, during which the NBA point guard wondered whether he cost himself millions of dollars by playing through a hip injury in the 2017 playoffs with the Boston Celtics. It once seemed like Thomas might earn a max contract as a free agent after the 2018 season, but two trades and a disappointing season later, the two-time All-Star was forced to settle for a one-year, $2 million veteran’s minimum deal with the Denver Nuggets.
It’s been a strange turn of events, especially given how beloved Thomas was in Boston before the Celtics traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of a blockbuster deal for Kyrie Irving. NBA insider Jeff Goodman doubts Thomas ever was going to land a max contract, though, as the nature of the guard’s success, his health status and other questions raised red flags about his long-term potential.
“Isaiah Thomas is right for certain situations. He was perfect in Boston for a couple years because they didn’t have another guy like him that could do some things off the bounce like he could,” Goodman recently said on the “Good N’ Plenty Podcast,” according to CLNS Media. “But I still say he was never going to get max money if he was healthy. Didn’t matter. Nobody is going to pay him max money. Would he have gotten a lot more than $2 million for a one-year deal? Sure.
“The hip injury, combined with the questions people have on Isaiah Thomas — does he work for everybody? He needs the ball in his hands a lot. He had it in Boston. He wasn’t going to get that everywhere else,” Goodman added. “Because, frankly, if he has the ball in his hands a lot there are other people are upset. There are other people standing around. And again, it worked in Boston. Although, there were players in Boston that played on that team that did not like playing with Isaiah Thomas.”
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of Thomas possibly rubbing some teammates the wrong way, although several former teammates also have disputed the notion. It’s also not irrational for NBA teams to be concerned about Thomas’ hip, especially with him turning 30 next season.
But did Thomas deserve more interest on the open market, and can he reestablish himself with the Nuggets and land a more lucrative contract next summer? Those are questions worth keeping in mind.
“Now he’s gotta prove himself, that he’s healthy. Can he get a deal next year where he’s making more money? Sure. But he’s not getting max money,” Goodman said, per CLNS Media. “Not at 30 years old coming off a hip injury with the questions — yes he’s put up numbers in his career, even before he got to Boston. Most of them came in losing environments. I think Denver is actually a pretty good fit for him.
“But it’s a combination of things. It’s not just the health with Isaiah Thomas. As is the case with DeMarcus Cousins, too. There are too many teams that take themselves out of the equation for guys like this because they don’t want to deal with the baggage.”
From Brinks truck to Tonka truck, it’s been a wild year for I.T.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images