NEW ORLEANS – When Isaiah Thomas was a first-time All-Star a year ago, all he wanted to do was soak it all in, enjoy being around the NBA’s best and maybe put a bug in a player or two’s ear about how cool it is to play for the Boston Celtics and they want to go along for the ride.
Then-Atlanta Hawk Al Horford was one of the players Thomas spent time talking to during all-star weekend a year ago, giving him a better sense of how he could fit into the Celtics system and culture as a whole.
While it wasn’t necessarily the deal-sealer in getting Horford to Boston, his efforts in helping recruit Horford to Boston certainly helped Horford in making what he has said on numerous occasions was one of the hardest decisions he’s had to make basketball-wise.
So who will Thomas target during this All-Star weekend?
Just as he did last year in Toronto, Thomas is keeping his short list of players he’ll pitch being a Celtic to, to himself.
But make no mistake about it, Thomas will be spreading the Celtic Green and White gospel all weekend long.
And after helping Boston land Horford who was the No. 2 free agent on the market behind Kevin Durant, you would think that Thomas might feel a bit of pressure to replicate his recruiting success from a year ago.
“No pressure,” Thomas told CSNNE.com. “But I’ve been recruiting for a while. I’m going to see what guys are talking about and dip my head in there and hopefully bring some more talent to Boston.”
When you look at this year’s All-Stars, there really aren’t a lot of players who could potentially be available this summer or before next week’s trade deadline.
Rumors have persisted for months that Chicago’s Jimmy Butler is a prime target of the Boston Celtics. While the Celtics have had discussions recently with the Bulls regarding Butler, the two sides are far apart when it comes to the particulars that would have to be exchanged in order to get a deal done.
There’s a growing sense that the Bulls will hold on to Butler and look to possibly move him this summer when there will be more potential suitors and with that, a better chance for them to get the kind of massive haul they are interested in acquiring for the three-time All-Star who is just 27 years old.
Thomas played with Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins for the Kings, and the two remain on good terms with one another. It’s hard to say whether he’s a player that Thomas might want to see in a Celtics jersey. But the only way he’s coming to Boston anytime soon is by way of a trade, and the Kings are not inclined for now at least, to move him. And then there’s the Celtics who for now at least, are not interested in swinging a deal for him, either.
The only other player here that’s legitimately on the Celtics’ radar is Utah’s Gordon Hayward, a first-time All-Star.
But Hayward’s well-documented past with head coach Brad Stevens at Butler makes him a player who doesn’t have to be sold on the idea of what the Celtics have to offer a player with his skills.
However, Hayward’s individual success this season as well as that of the Utah Jazz, makes it highly unlikely that he will do anything this summer other than re-sign a max or near-max contract to stay with the Jazz.