Celtics Sign Isaiah: From 2015-2017, Isaiah Thomas lit up TD Garden like nobody else. The little guy, as he was called by Tommy Heinsohn (RIP), was able to score against anybody, putting up 50-point performances against some of the toughest defenders in the league. There was no second-guessing the 5’9 guard anymore.
Thomas energized Boston after coming over at the 2015 trade deadline to the point that they fought their way into the playoffs after it looked like they had no chance at doing so. He averaged 19 points and five assists per game off the bench in 21 appearances. Better years followed, which I’ll get to in the next few sections.
But here’s the point. The current Celtics don’t lack starpower, but they lack depth and flare. When Kemba sits, they have nobody to put in as a replacement. When Marcus Smart shoots 0-for from three, who can enter? Perhaps, the little guy?
His All-Star Appearances Were Not Nothing
Isaiah Thomas spent two years as the Celtics starting point guard. He was an All-Star both times, averaged 22 and 29 points per game respectively, and played his way into the MVP conversation. He was an All-NBA performer in 2016-17, probably making him the shortest player to ever achieve such a feat.
At 5’9 and picked 60th, he achieved so many things that doubters told him he couldn’t accomplish.
After the tragic death of his sister Chyna during the playoffs, Thomas opted to continue playing. And he found a way to hang 50 big ones on the Wizards in round two, dedicating the performance to her.
That’s not nothing. That is what a superstar with a wild ability to compartmentalize does. The day he did that, was supposed to be Chyna’s birthday. Truly inspiring, and incredible.
One thing about Thomas during his years in Boston: He never quit. He was fun to watch every night, and he energized that crowd in a way that Larry Bird did for 13 years from 1979 to 1992. The way he got to his spots and created for himself was just insane.
And so when the team opted to trade him to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving following that 2016-17 season, it brought his three-year run in Beantown to an end.
The Years Since Leaving Boston
Since leaving Boston, Isaiah Thomas has played for four teams in the last four years, being a part of five organizations. A hip injury suffered during his last playoff run in Boston caused him to miss the first 36 games of the Cavs season. But even when he got out there, the fit just was not there.
Thomas struggled to score effectively, and was ultimately traded to the Lakers at the deadline as Cleveland retooled. He had some solid performances, but ultimately missed the last 10 games of the year due to injury. He was undergoing arthrosporic hip surgery.
Thomas landed with the Nuggets the following year, missing the first 56 games of the year. And when he was finally healthy enough to play, they told him after 12 appearances that he was not in the rotation anymore.
His year was ending early. So, he would be reduced to a cheerleader on the bench. Tough.
And so, when the opportunity came for him to sign with the Wizards the following year, a starting gig came with it.
Thomas was not great in DC by any stretch, but he had some good moments. He had a points-assist double-double. He made 3+ threes on 11 occasions. He scored 20+ points four times.
The team wasn’t winning much with him starting next to Bradley Beal, but he was showing that his tank wasn’t totally empty.
In all, Thomas averaged 12 points and four assists in 40 games, averaging 23 minutes. He shot 41% from the floor, 41% from three and 81% at the FT line.
DC traded him to the Clippers at the deadline. And LA waived him. That brings us to where we now stand.
Sign Him Boston Just Do It
In an interview with the Boston Globe in late November, Thomas said he was feeling great. This was the healthiest he had felt since the earlier days in Boston. And a healthy, explosive Thomas is bad news for all opposing teams. The only issue is getting him on a roster.
The Celtics are currently 23-24, and have shown plenty of signs of weakness. The trade deadline addition of Evan Fournier will help, but he did go 0-10 in his debut.
Marcus Smart is shooting 33% on six threes per game. Kemba has missed 40% of Boston’s games. And Payton Pritchard is still learning the NBA ropes.
Why not add Thomas? He doesn’t need to play 30 minutes a game. He can come in for 15-20 off the bench and give you a scoring punch. The team did him dirty once already by trading him, and this is the opportunity to right the ship and do right by the “little guy”. He’s more than earned another chance in the league.
It’s not quite the same as the Carmelo situation, but IT does belong in the NBA. The fact that we have less than two months until the playoffs and he hasn’t played since February of 2020 is just wrong.
He can revitalize the Celtics, give them the energy they need. Danny Ainge and Jaylen Brown should sit down and talk. About IT. JB is the only Celtic left from Thomas’ tenure. It would benefit everybody.
Nothing to Lose
Boston has nothing to lose here. If they sign IT and it didn’t work, fine. But at 23-24, while having two All-Stars, that’s pretty bad.
There are some obvious holes on this roster. Thomas can become the energy guy, and also the one who gets the other guys on the bench excited.
Tacko Fall is a fun guy, but his impact does not stretch to the floor.
IT can be both. Come on Celtics. Do it. You know you want to. SIGN ISAIAH. NOW.