Isaiah Thomas has officially entered “Diplomatic Free-Agent-to-Be” mode.
One wishful fan asked the Los Angeles Lakers point guard on Twitter whether he would consider coming back to the Boston Celtics this summer. His response was music to the pipe dreamer’s ears:
Anything can happen https://t.co/jeDPJpZ4PV
— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) March 19, 2018
This isn’t something you would have expected Thomas to say last summer. He was pretty pissed about Celtics president Danny Ainge trading him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Some of his initial reactions to the deal were caught on camera, and certain public sentiments leading up to his season debut suggested the relationship was too far gone.
Time heals all, though. And, apparently, enough time has passed for Thomas to forgive and forget.
Well that, or he realizes he hasn’t had the best contract year and would be foolish to eliminate any team from his potential list of suitors.
Granted, the Celtics remain an unlikely landing spot. They have Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier on the roster, and Marcus Smart is a restricted free agent. Even if Thomas was willing to accept whatever version of the mid-level exception they have available—the full is $8.6 million; the taxpayer’s is $5.3 million—the Celtics won’t really have a need to re-acquire him unless Smart prices himself out of town. And that probably isn’t happening.
Smart is dealing with a potentially season-ending injury at the moment and still boasts a broken jumper. He’s not someone teams will overpay in a cash-strapped market. And if the Celtics re-sign him, they’d only have a semi-need for Thomas if they flipped Terry Rozier, among others, in exchange for another impact player.
Once more, though, roadblocks abound. Thomas struggled to play off LeBron James and others in Cleveland. Though he’s familiar with the Celtics’ roster and system, would he really re-work his game to complement Irving and Jayson Tatum? When he fancies himself a starting-caliber point guard?
Thomas may, in fact, have to re-adjust his expectations leading into this summer. Not many teams have an opening in the starting lineup for a point guard. The ones that do probably won’t be keen on investing in a 29-year-old coming off a recent hip injury. And while that opens the door for him to join a contender, the Celtics don’t seem like they’ll end up being even a long-shot suitor. Too much must align for it to make sense for either party.