Isaiah Thomas wants to get paid this summer when he enters free agency. He’s been thinking about this next contract for a while—almost, it seems, since he signed his last one, a four-year, $27 million deal with the Phoenix Suns in 2014.
Unfortunately for him, though, it doesn’t look like he’ll be needing a Brinks truck to secure all his offseason’s earnings. Not only has the free-agent market cooled significantly in the aftermath of 2016’s spending binge, but Thomas, going on 29, is still working his way pack from a hip injury.
Playing a loaded point guard position doesn’t help either. Few teams have starting floor-general vacancies. Most of the ones that do aren’t looking to shell out superstar money to soon-to-be 30-year-olds. Thomas will no doubt have his suitors, but like George Hill, Jeff Teague and Kyle Lowry before him, he’ll find it difficult to suss out a pact that pays him for more than two or three years.
Hence why, according to ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst, many NBA executives believe Thomas’ best chance of getting puh-aid this summer lies in sticking with the Cleveland Cavaliers:
Thomas is in a contract year, and he wants to be paid. League executives and agents judging the market believe Thomas’ best chance at a significant contract this summer is with the Cavs, and they believe he will proceed accordingly.
That could be the case regardless of what happens with LeBron James‘ free agency. In the event James decides to move on from Cleveland again, some believe the Cavs may still be interested in retaining Thomas as long as he proves he can return to his All-Star form.
If LeBron James returns to Cleveland, forget about it. The Cavaliers will pay market value for Thomas’ services, even if he’s not fielding similar offers from other suitors. Things get interesting, though, if James leaves.
Do the Cavaliers pay Thomas anyway, merely because he’s a household name and one of the centerpieces from the Kyrie Irving trade? And if so, do they keep him with the intent to trade him later? Is that even possible, knowing what it might cost to keep him? Could they feasibly let him walk, if LeBron does the same, as they steer into a full-blown rebuild for which he isn’t really suited?
I guess we’ll find out.