Despite several highly successful seasons in Boston, Isaiah Thomas may never speak to Danny Ainge again.
That’s what happens when you’re a star player traded seemingly out of nowhere.
“He has really warm feelings about Boston, about the Celtics, about Brad Stevens – really about everybody except Ainge,” Sports Illustrated writer Lee Jenkins said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “There a lot of potential reasons for that. When he got there, the Celtics were still sort of in rebuilding mode, and he played great. He made back-to-back All-Star teams, but he was also a great ambassador for the franchise and he helped them lure Al Horford, lure Gordon Hayward. So he did a lot of work for them off the floor, too.”
He also played hurt. And while grieving the death of his sister.
“There’s just a lot of factors that I think led to some feelings when he was traded,” Jenkins said. “A lot of superstar players, they’re kind of made aware as these situations are percolating, and this thing with Irving had to have been percolating for a while. He didn’t know. He was caught completely unaware when that went down. He had Celtics physical therapists with him twice a day working on the hip. So when it happened, I think there was real surprise and disappointment.”
Thomas was traded – along with Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and an unprotected 2018 first-round pick – for Kyrie Irving.
The Cavs have played in three consecutive NBA Finals.
“I think he can kind of feel the optimism that the Cavs are starting to have as he spends more time there, but it hasn’t been that long,” Jenkins said. “Most of these deals, a lot of times these guys will move July 1. Around the draft, you get deals. It’s rare to get a deal at the very end of August. This deal went down, then it didn’t go down, then it did – so I still think there’s sort of a wistfulness there about Boston and what he accomplished there and what he felt like they were on the verge of accomplishing. He’s kind of moving into a new challenge.
“He spent the last year, two years, with his sights set squarely on Cleveland, on trying to take out Cleveland, take out LeBron – and then all of a sudden you snap your fingers and you’re with them,” Jenkins continued. “You’re kind of going the other way and Boston is the team you have to worry about. So it’s an adjustment. I don’t necessarily know that he’s made it all the way yet. He’d say in one sentence what he missed about Boston and then in the next, ‘Well, I get to play with LeBron now and I won’t face any more double-teams.’ So l think like anybody, he’s a little bit in the middle.”