Thomas: 'Upset' by Durant's choice, but understands it

Thomas: 'Upset' by Durant's choice, but understands it

LAS VEGAS -- When Isaiah Thomas left the Boston Celtics’ meeting with Kevin Durant, he had a feeling at the time that Durant was ready to make a change.

“I walked out thinking we had a chance at him,” Thomas recalled of the meeting with Durant this summer. “But I didn’t think he was going to go to Warriors; I definitely didn’t think that. But leaving that meeting, I had a sense he was leaving OKC.”

You can throw Thomas in the legion of basketball lovers who wasn’t happy with Durant’s decision.

“Yeah, I was upset,” Thomas said during Boston’s summer league game against Chicago on Saturday. “But at the same time, it was that man’s decision. I couldn’t do nothing about it but try to get him to come to Boston. I thought we did a hell of a job with what Danny (Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations) brought up and the guys in that room. He (Durant) really considered us; he had to. The meeting went really well.”

As well as it went, Thomas said it was definitely a different feeling compared to the Celtics meeting with Horford.

“I wrapped that one up,” Thomas said. “I just knew he was coming to Boston for sure.”


“I just knew,” said Thomas who added, “The way the meeting went. It was either you’re picking us or a few other teams that just didn’t fit. It only made sense to come. We’re a young team. We need a guy like him to come. And you can’t turn down as much money as he got.” 

Horford signed a four-year, $113 million contract with the Celtics that includes a player opt-out after the third season.

Well before free agency began, Thomas knew selling Horford on Boston would be easy in part because Horford was already intrigued with the possibility of playing for the Celtics.

During All-Star weekend, Thomas said there was an All-Star who had been asking him about being in Boston. Thomas declined to reveal who that player was at the time, but on Saturday acknowledged that Horford had been the player who asked him about Boston.

Thomas said he wasn’t totally sure of just how interested Horford was at the time.

“I knew it was in the back of his head at least,” Thomas said. “When we got to meet with him face-to-face, I felt he kind of knew this was the direction he wanted to go in.”

A. Sherrod Blakely can be followed on Twitter: @SherrodbCSN

Irving, Brown out again for Celtics tonight vs. Thunder

Irving, Brown out again for Celtics tonight vs. Thunder

BOSTON – The injury report remains the same for the Celtics who will enter tonight’s game against Oklahoma City with a roster that remains shorthanded.

In addition to Gordon Hayward (left ankle) who has been out all season, joining him on the inactive list tonight are Jaylen Brown (NBA concussion protocol); Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness); Marcus Smart (right thumb sprain) and Daniel Theis (out for season after left knee meniscal tear surgery).

Only Irving and Brown are expected to return in the near future. Theis has his season-ending surgery last week, the Celtics continue to insist Hayward won't play this season and Smart has a shot at returning at some point in the playoffs as early as the latter stages of the first round or early in the second.


Celtics-Thunder preview: Balancing rest and rhythm

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Celtics-Thunder preview: Balancing rest and rhythm

BOSTON – With the NBA playoffs looming, this is a tricky time of year for most of the league’s playoff-bound teams. 

Both players and coaches want to head into the postseason well-rested. 

But they also want to be in a good playing rhythm.

MORE - OKC not taking shorthanded C's for granted

Injuries have forced the Boston Celtics to sit some players who are likely to be able to play (and well-rested) when the playoffs. 

And tonight’s foe, the Oklahoma City Thunder, are in a similar situation as well. 

“It's something you're walking a tightrope on all the time, where a guy is really rested but you've taken him out of rhythm,” said Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. “The biggest thing is, there's gotta be communication between the players and the medical staff, coaches, of where guys are, what they need.

Donovan added, “I think rest this time of year would help any player, but there's a balance between maybe getting too much rest and maybe getting out of rhythm. The players are always walking that line during the course of the year, because you kind of get into a rhythm of playing every other day, you get into that, and then there's a back to back here or there, and you get three games in four nights, but yeah. You try to best as you can with your players, help them balance that the best they can.”

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook can see how some players might need to strike a balance between getting enough rest late in the season while maintaining a good playing rhythm.  

So, I asked him which is his preference?

“I prefer to play,” he said. “Rhythm and all that (expletive), it’s in your mind.”

For Westbrook, maybe so. 

But it is very real to a number of players in the NBA, among them being his teammate and fellow All-Star Paul George. 

“If you know why you’re in the gym and the work you’re getting, you lock in,” George said. “You prepare, get your work done. And you get off your legs, get off our feet and get your rest. It’s easy to balance the two when you know what exactly you’re doing and you know exactly what you need to do.”

Boston has worked to strike that balance with Kyrie Irving all season.

That’s why the five-time All-Star is averaging 24.4 points per game which is 11th in the league. However, he’s doing it in 32.2 minutes which ranks 55th in the league in minutes played per game. 

Lately, Irving has gotten more time off than he would like as he deals with a sore left knee that has kept him sidelined for the Celtics’ last three games. 

It doesn’t appear to be something that will limit him now.

However, having him sit out games now increases the likelihood that he’ll be ready to roll at or near full strength, when the playoffs arrive. 

Boston is also playing without Jaylen Brown who suffered a concussion when he fell on his back following a dunk at Houston on March 3. He is expected to return at some point between now and the end of the regular season which could be a blessing in disguise for the 6-foot-7 Brown who will be called upon to not only remain Boston’s next-best scoring option to Kyrie Irving, but also defend at a high level. 

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens acknowledged that they have given thought to how to find that happy medium between resting guys while ensuring as best they can, that players will be refreshed for the playoffs. 

“We haven’t been in that situation very often, where we choose to do rest except for that stretch in December when we rested Al (Horford),” Stevens said. “But everything else has kind of happened organically with guys being dinged up or whatever the case may be. I think that’s … we’ll probably be in a situation where we will continue to have those discussions.”