Five reasons why Celtics should reward Thomas with max contract
BOSTON – When Isaiah Thomas hits the free agent market in 2018, no one knows what kind of contract he’ll land.
But one thing we all know, it’s going to be big … really big!
And the way he has been ballin’ out for the Celtics this season, he is more than deserving of a fat payday in an era when slightly above-average players are hauling in deals that pay eight figures annually.
So how much is Thomas worth?
Or more to the point, is he worth a max contract?
That will all depend on a several factors (His health, statistics and the Celtics’ success just to name a few) that will come to fruition in the coming months.
While there are certainly reasons for the Celtics to be cautious in giving him a max-salaried deal, here are five reasons why he’s deserving to be rewarded in as big a way possible.
There’s not more that Thomas can do at this point to show that he’s “all-in” when it comes to being a Boston Celtic. He’s one of the most active players on the team in the community, he’s constantly trying to recruit talent to sign with Boston, and he has been an ideal fit for what the Boston Celtics have needed since the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen was disbanded. Having a player that genuinely wants to be here, for the right reasons, is refreshing and to be candid, not something to be glossed over when it comes to re-signing them to a long-term deal.
FOURTH QUARTER IMPACT
No matter what the sport is, no matter what the position may be, having a player who tends to shine brightest at the end of games is huge when you’re talking about building a team that can someday soon compete for championships. Thomas has proven himself one of the best late-game players in the NBA. He’s second in the NBA in points per game average in the fourth quarter (9.3 points per game), a number that was fueled by the franchise-record 29 fourth-quarter explosion he had as part of his career-high 52-point game against the Heat last week.
One of the worst feelings for fans, a front office and of course the player, is to sign a fat deal and immediately get hurt. There’s no guarantee that Thomas will be relatively injury-free through his next deal, but his track record tends to make one believe that health-wise, he’ll be good to go most nights. He has missed four games this season after playing in all 82 a year ago. Prior to that, he has missed no more than 17 games in a season and that came during the 2014-2015 season which he split between Phoenix and Boston.
RISING SALARY CAP
With teams being allowed to spend more than ever, it also means there’s greater flexibility as far as what they can pay free agents. Thomas has proven himself a talented enough player to where there will be plenty of teams willing to pay him significantly going forward. And while that was going to be the case regardless, the fact that more teams have more money to use only enhances the potential suitors for a proven talent like Thomas.
Far too often players don’t elevate their game to the level of a max or near-max salaried player even if that’s what they’re being paid to do. As you go through Thomas’ salaries through the years, there’s one common thread that binds them all. In each instance, there was clear and undeniable feeling that his play was far better than what he was getting paid for it. Consider this: Thomas has played five-plus seasons and his salary in that time totals about $16 million. It wasn’t that teams pulled a fast on him. It’s just that in each season, his play was better than his pay. That has held true here in Boston, even more so when you consider his current salary ($6.6 million) will decline next season ($6.21 million) even at a time when his game continues to soar to heights few envisioned. Knowing that they’ll be investing in a player whose teams consistently profited from his play, should make it a lot easier for the Celtics to cut that max or near-max check that someone will doling out to him in the summer of 2018. And Thomas has made it no secret, he wants that team to be the Boston Celtics.