All those hard feelings between the Celtics and Isaiah Thomas evidently went out the window this offseason. At least for a little while.
In an extensive interview with ESPN.com, Thomas revealed that he talked with Celtics GM Danny Ainge recently about a possible return to Boston, a notion that Ainge was evidently open to prior to locking up Marcus Smart. (To read the entire piece, click here.)
Before Thomas ultimately inked his one-year deal with the Nuggets he conducted a 15-20-minute conversation with Ainge, letting it be known that if the opportunity was there the guard was open to a return to the Celtics.
“S—, I’d have gone back,” Thomas said. “I don’t hold grudges.”
Ultimately, the timing wasn’t going to work out, with Ainge not finalizing his deal with Smart until after Thomas’ agreed to his contract with Denver. He had predicted his free agent haul was going to necessitate backing up the “Brinks truck,” a notion that quickly dissipated with his subpar 2017-18 with the Cavaliers and Lakers.
“If I didn’t play in the playoffs, I’d be OK,” Thomas told ESPN.com. “I’d be getting paid. I’d be who I am — who I was. But you couldn’t tell me in that moment in time — with everything I was going through — that, OK, I should just sit out. I don’t think Boston went about it the right way, as well.
“But at the same time, it was hard for me to sit out. I just lost my sister, one of the closest people in my life. Basketball was the only thing that was going to help me out. I played until I literally couldn’t play anymore. And that was not a good business decision if I was looking in the long term, but I was looking in the ‘right now.’ That’s just what it was.
“They probably would’ve traded me anyway. But I would’ve been in position to show my worth, and last year I was never in position to show my worth.”
Thomas’ comments clearly show the 29-year-old is still more confident than ever heading into another contract year.
“This is just a battle that I have to fight that nobody else has to fight,” he said. “Nobody. Nobody can say that they fight the same battle as me, especially with what I’ve done. The only thing that they’ve got now is, “Oh, he’s hurt his hip.’ That’s all they got on me now. Before it was, ‘Oh well, it’s Brad Stevens. It’s the system. Come on, check my career stats. They don’t lie.
“I’m not worried about starting or coming off the bench now. I’m worried about playing well and showing the world who I am again. Once the people see that I can play — and play at a high level still — they won’t be able to deny me next summer. They won’t be able to deny me what I bring on the court and off the court for an organization.
“Nothing that I did in the past can be used to get [a new contract]. Everybody else can, but me? I can’t. That’s been my story. It’s never been, “Oh, let’s pay him off what he’s done.’ That’s just what it is. That’s the reality. I can’t control that. But I can control taking advantage of an opportunity and showing that I can still play at a high level.”
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Source: GreenStreet Blog