Isaiah Thomas may not be playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers just yet, but head coach Tyronn Lue still believes he’s having an impact.
As he told reporters following the Cavaliers’ 12th straight victory, this one a 113-91 shellacking of the Chicago Bulls, per Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon:
Lue said the influx of new players like Wade, Jeff Green, and Jae Crowder has helped keep the Cavs’ attention and pumped life into the team, as has Thomas, who hasn’t played yet.
“I think Isaiah, he’s been big just his energy on the bench of cheering and getting on guys who are not doing the right thing, it’s just a whole new feel,” Lue said.
Indeed, if you watch the Cavaliers, the cameras will every once and a while pan to Thomas, a two-time All-Star, rooting for his teammates or speaking with them in between whistles. And you have to respect that, because not only is he not playing, but he’s not a tenured contributor on the this team. This is his first season in Cleveland, he has yet to play, and he’s a free agent after this summer. He could have spent a bulk of his rehab process away from the team. He doesn’t even technically need to be on the sidelines.
That he’s present anyway says a lot. Perhaps he can taste his return, which could come sometime later this month. Maybe he’s so driven to exact revenge on the Boston Celtics for moving him in the first place that he’s prepared to immerse himself in the Cavaliers’ culture and hope it leads to a poignant message. Maybe he’s just that good of a teammate, and that excited about the Cavaliers’ prospects with him, both this season and beyond.
Hell, perhaps his energy stems from a combination of everything. Wherever it comes from, he’s doing the Cavaliers a great service, displaying perseverance and loyalty and engagement all at the same time.