While the Cavs and Celtics trade swapping Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas remains up in the air, Thomas has been clear that his hip injury is nothing for NBA teams to worry about. He’s confident he’ll return as the same player once he finished his rehab.
Here’s what Thomas told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Tuesday:
“I am not damaged,” Thomas told ESPN on Tuesday. “I’ll be back, and I’ll be the same player.”
“I don’t know what [the organization] is doing,” Thomas told ESPN. “It’s out of my control. I just want to talk about what I can control, and I know that this [hip] won’t be a problem into the future.”
That’s exactly what you’d expect Thomas to say, especially in a contract year. What makes this story more persuasive is that Thomas went further, saying this isn’t just personal confidence, but medical prognosis:
“There’s never been an indication that I wouldn’t be back, and there’s never been an indication that this is something messing up my career,” Thomas told ESPN. “Maybe I am not going to be back as soon this season as everyone wants me to be, but I’m going to be back, and I’m going to be the same player again. No doctor has told me anything different than that.”
“I haven’t had one doctor tell me that this injury is going to hurt my career,” Thomas said. “Surgery was not the best option in this case. I aggravated it in March when [Minnesota’s] Karl-Anthony Towns fell on me. I kept playing on it and making it worse — until I couldn’t play anymore last season.”
“He told me, ‘I have seen hips worse than yours with guys who played at a high level and had great careers,'” Thomas told ESPN. “At the moment, yes, I am injured, but I have made progress from May.”
If Thomas truly comes back as the same player next season, then the Cavs are in great shape. In exchange for Irving, the Cavs received Thomas, veteran forward Jae Crowder, young 7-footer Ante Zizic, and the Nets’ 2018 draft pick.
Thomas had a better season than Irving last year and made the second-team All-NBA, averaging 28.9 points. For a while, some folks put him in the MVP conversation. (He ultimately finished fifth in MVP voting.) One big plus for the Cavaliers in this trade is Thomas has only one year remaining on his contract. Should LeBron James leave in free agency, as many people expect, Cleveland can simply cut Thomas loose and go for a full rebuild, using the Nets’ 2018 draft pick as a springboard.
It’ll also be less embarrassing for the NBA Store if this trade goes through because they prematurely promoted Thomas’ Cavs gear and Irving’s Celtics gear.