Could the Celtics actually bring back Isaiah Thomas?
If Danny Ainge truly is worried that Kyrie Irving will not re-sign in Boston next summer – then it becomes highly possible. Ainge and the Celtics like to get out ahead of these matters (see: why they traded Isaiah in the first place when they knew he would be asking to back up the Brinks truck this summer).
There has been nothing yet to suggest that Ainge would include Irving in a trade to San Antonio in order to nab Kawhi Leonard. But as we’ve seen so many times in the NBA these past few years – things change in a hurry.
All told, Leonard is a better talent than Irving. For one year, he would give the Celtics a better shot at beating Golden State in the NBA Finals than Irving would. The risk in the Celtics bringing in Leonard for a Jaylen Brown or even a Jayson Tatum is that the Celtics control both of their relatively miniscule contracts for several more years. Those two players are the reason why the Celtics believe they’ll be in contention well into the next decade.
If the Celtics are going to lose Irving in free agency, why not try the thing with Leonard instead (their contracts are nearly identical by the way and would make for an easy trade)?
Obviously if the Celtics traded away Irving in free agency, it would open up a hole at point guard. Terry Rozier was dynamite in the postseason for the Celtics, but during the Cleveland series it seemed as though the Cavs (not a great defensive team, mind you) had figured him out.
Thomas is in a brutal position right now, and desperately needs to prove he’s not damaged goods.
“Just given the way he played last year I think you can’t go more than one year on him,” an NBA GM told The Sporting News’ Sean Deveney in April. “Maybe you can do two years if you hold the second year at your option. That’s before you even get into whether he is healthy.
“I think everybody likes the guy,” the GM continued. “You root for him. But do you want to pay him $12 or $14 million when you know you’re also paying for all the headaches that his health could give you? Someone will get him, but it’s going to be a low risk deal.”
If the Lakers land LeBron James in free agency, expect LA to want no part in bringing Thomas back. Thomas took a dig at LeBron and the Cavs when he appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live during the NBA Finals.
During a pop culture quiz on the show, Thomas wasn’t doing well and quipped, “I’m like the Cavs. I’m gonna get swept.”
Wherever LeBron goes, don’t expect Thomas to be joining him. As for a reunion with the Celtics, that’s also highly unlikely – but as we’ve come to learn – anything is possible in today’s NBA offseason.