Could Isaiah Thomas Return to Boston Next Season?

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With Terry Rozier talking his way out of town, and Kyrie Irving’s future very much up in the air, Boston’s point guard situation is less than ideal.  If neither of these two return to Boston next year - which is highly plausible - the Celtics are left with Marcus Smart.  Brad Wanamaker is a restricted free agent, but played sporadically last season. 

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I love me some Smart, but he’s going to need some help.  Sure, Boston could opt to use one of their three first-round picks and address that need in next month's NBA Draft, but after Ja Morant, the point guard class is pretty weak.  Combine that with when the Celtics are picking in the first round, and the odds of them getting somebody who can immediately contribute is unlikely.

Or...they could opt for free agency.  They won't have the kind of cap space to bring in a superstar, but there are some intriguing, veteran names.  Guys like Tyreke Evans, Jeff Teague; even a Rajon Rondo reunion has been mentioned. 
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What if they reunited with a different familiar face?  Somebody who had great success under Brad Stevens; both individually, and as a team.  Somebody who played his tail off for this fan base, and was the very definition of Celtic pride.  What if the Boston Celtics brought back Isaiah Thomas?

Hear me out.  Thomas is a free agent, and could be had at a very friendly price.  He definitely wants to be back here, and has publicly stated he’d be open to a return.  Stevens knows exactly how to use him, already has a great relationship with him and wouldn't have to worry about managing him the way Kyrie needs to be managed.

Thomas' best years of his career were in Boston.  In a little over two seasons, he averaged over 24 PPG and six assists, earned two All-Star selections, and led Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals.  In 25 playoff appearances, he averaged over 22 points and six assists.  People remember Isaiah for his fourth quarter magic and his scoring prowess, but he was a heck of a facilitator too.


Yes, he's clearly not the same player he was just 2 years ago, and maybe he'll never be that again. However, he hasn't really had the same opportunity that was afforded him in Boston. He suffered a pretty major hip injury at the end of his Celtics tenure, and was then shipped off to Cleveland as part of the deal for Kyrie.


He and the Cavaliers were so eager to get him on the floor, that he definitely returned a bit prematurely.  It never really worked out.  In 15 games, he averaged just over 14 points and four assists, but understandably didn't have the same explosiveness that he had the previous season.  Unfortunately for Thomas, LeBron didn't have time for that.


The Cavs weren't willing to wait for him to shake off the rust, and as the losses piled up for Cleveland, the pressure continued to mount.  Cleveland cleaned house at the trade deadline and sent Isaiah to the Lakers.  He was hot and cold in 17 games with L.A.  He had some great scoring nights, but he struggled to make his jumper consistently.  He was eventually shut down for the final few weeks of the season.

It was clear that Thomas rushed things a bit and never fully recovered from his surgery.  The Lakers let him walk at the end of the year, and he signed a one-year deal with the Denver Nuggets.  Denver was patient with Isaiah.  They wanted him to rehab and ensure he was 100% healthy when he returned.  That patience was aided by the fact that the Nuggets were playing extremely well, and were 20 games over .500 by the time Thomas made his debut in February.

But Thomas never found his groove in Denver, and part of that was because they were playing so well without him. The team was one of the biggest surprises of the season, and Mike Malone eventually removed Thomas from the rotation, not wanting to jeopardize their success.

Thomas claims that he is fully healthy entering this offseason, and that this summer he'll be able to really "grind".  If he's fully healthy entering next season, all he needs is the right opportunity.  Boston and Brad Stevens can give that to him.

You could start Smart, and Isaiah is your sixth man.  Stevens would know how to put him in situations where he can succeed.  With Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward, there would be no immediate pressure for him to come in and be the "guy". I wouldn't rule it out.


Follow Derek on Twitter @mcvay34


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Boston Sports Syndicate: Could Isaiah Thomas Return to Boston Next Season?
Could Isaiah Thomas Return to Boston Next Season?
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