Fingers Are Crossed As Isaiah Thomas May Be Out Until All-Star Break
Not only is Thomas starting to wear the Cavs’ gear, he’s also fully committed to Cleveland. But the Cavs’ fateful aren’t at peace yet. That’s because there is no timetable on the return of new starting point guard Isaiah Thomas. According to the latest rumors, Thomas may be out until the All-Star break. That’s half a season for the Cavs, who will have to do better than last season to get the best record in the Eastern Conference especially after how the Boston Celtics have upgraded during the offseason.
Not only is the worry on I.T.’s date of return but there are also questions regarding the seriousness of his hip injury, principally since he is expected to be out for an extended period of time.
Not Damaged Goods
Thomas insists that he is not ‘damaged goods.’ He says that while he is currently injured, he has made progress since getting hurt. Thomas adds that while he may not return as soon as people expect, he is certain that he will return this year and he is more certain that he will return to his old form.
Dr. Bryan Kelly of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York recently checked on Thomas’ hip and according to I.T., the specialist told him that he’d ( Dr. Kelly ) see worse cases before and those players went on to ‘ play at a high level and had great careers’. You’ve got to love Thomas’ optimism but you can’t blame some Cleveland fans for worrying.
Assuming that Thomas will be out until the All-Star break, as what latest reports are saying, then the Cavaliers may only be able to utilize him for half a season. That’s because Thomas is going to be a free agent at the end of the 2017-18 season. And as he said before leaving Boston, they’ve got to ready the max contract for him.
Thomas is one of the most underpaid superstars in the NBA. He signed a four year $27M deal in 2014. His $6.3M salary for next season pales in comparison to players of his caliber. Heck, there are around 100 players in the league who are set to make more than Thomas this year as a result of the NBA’s new $24B TV deal.
The Brink Truck
But with his contract set to expire at the end of the season, Thomas will demand for a max contract-which he deserves. That’s why he says ‘they got to bring me the Brink’s truck’. And assuming that I.T. will return as the I.T of last season, the Brink truck will come knocking at his door. Whether that contract comes from Cleveland or not is another story.
Thomas will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. And even if he gets the max contract from Cleveland, one cannot discount the possibility of him signing elsewhere. Look what happened to Kevin Durant. Also, Thomas’ fate could depend on LeBron James, who can also become an unrestricted free agent himself next season.
Size Could Be A Factor
Let’s leave LeBron out of the discussion. Thomas will be 29 after next season and even if he returns to form, Cleveland may decide not offer him a five year deal. Thomas will be 34 after five years and given his size, his decline could be faster than the league’s much bigger players.
Of the NBA’s best players below six feet tall, Tyrone ‘Mugsy’ Bogues lasted the longest at age 36. Earl Boykins played until 35 while Calvin Murphy and Spud Webb retired at 34. Now if you take a look at their career stats, these players’ productivity started to decline much earlier. The same could happen to Thomas. And this piece of history could play a part in his contract negotiation, at least in the length of the contract extension.
A Max Player
Without doubt, Isaiah Thomas is deserving of a maximum amount NBA contract. He was third in the league in scoring last season at 28.9 points per game. He led the league in Drives to the Basket ( 12.7 drives per game ) and points scored from Drives to the Basket ( 9.5 points per game ). If he returns to this form next season, he should get a max contract, period.
But there are factors surrounding his case. First is the hip injury. Even if he can fully recover, that will always be at the back of every team’s mind. The next factor is LeBron James’ free agency which will be Cleveland’s top priority. Then of course there is the historical data on players his size. The NBA’s greatest players under six feet tall decline fast in their 30’s and so could Thomas.
Not Just About I.T
But then these are all ‘what ifs’. How Thomas returns next season will be the most important game changer for him. Knowing Isaiah Thomas, he’s going to play through any adversity. We’ve seen him do that before. He’s probably going to have a career-season in 2017-18, that is if he can return 100% healthy. That is the big question, really. But while Thomas was the centerpiece of the deal for Cleveland, he wasn’t the only player Cleveland got in exchange for Kyrie Irving.
Maybe this trade wasn’t just about Isaiah Thomas. Maybe It’s about Jae Crowder’s expected immediate contribution to the Cavs’ defense and three point shooting. Crowder could help Cleveland win the title this year. Maybe it’s about the potential of Ante Zizic. Zizic could be a force to reckon with in five years. Maybe it’s about the Brooklyn pick turning into another #1 overall pick ( like last year ). If that happens ( or close to that ) it could become an insurance policy for LeBron James to re-sign with the Cavs. Maybe the 2020 second round pick could turn out to be more than just a sweetener to the Kyrie trade. Maybe that turns out to be a diamond in the rough.
As for Isaiah Thomas, we can only keep out fingers crossed.
The Kyrie Irving trade has been consummated. Isaiah Thomas is officially a Cleveland Cavalier. Although this kid’s mom didn’t know who he was ( you can’t blame her though ), this photo of Thomas wearing a Cavs’ sweatshirt is proof of IT’s allegiance:
😂🤦🏼♂️ pic.twitter.com/KmMn0hVqX2— Pickle Rick (@MaxHerron) September 3, 2017
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