Celtics

Thomas: When free agency comes, 'I’m going to get what I deserve'

Thomas: When free agency comes, 'I’m going to get what I deserve'

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – Isaiah Thomas has spent his entire basketball career answering questions about his game and whether a 5-foot-9 guard could play let alone thrive in the NBA.

With each twist, turn and unexpected setback he has faced, Thomas has consistently responded with an emphatic showing that left little doubt in anyone’s mind that he is up to the challenge, any challenge, that’s put before him.

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The summer of 2018 was supposed to be when all his hard work, those long hours in the gym honing his shooting touch, would lead to a major payday for this free agent-to-be.

But a hip injury last season that has yet to fully heal and has created some concern as to whether he’ll return to the court and play at a comparable level we saw last season with the Celtics.

His size and ability have at times been questioned.

But his health?

This is a new one.

“It’s been a little difficult but at the same time, I’m here to control what I can control,” Thomas said. “I can’t do anything other than that.”

Thomas, who finished fifth in the league’s MVP race after averaging 28.9 points per game last game which ranked third in the NBA and tops in the East, has put together the kind of resume that injury or not, would make him a lock to get a fat payday next summer from some team.

There is little doubt that a double-standard exists for players like Thomas who at 5-9, doesn’t look the part of a superstar even though his play and his numbers and impact on winning, suggest otherwise.

Chandler Parsons is a solid NBA player but not nearly as decorated in terms of accolades or accomplishments as Isaiah Thomas.

And yet despite an injury-riddled career, the 6-10 Parsons has still managed to rank among the highest paid players in the NBA.

Following the 2015-2016 season in Dallas, Parsons opted out of the final year of his contract with the Mavericks – worth $16 million - despite missing the end of the season and the playoffs with a meniscus tear which was the latest setback in a career that has been marred with knee injuries.

That didn’t prevent the Memphis Grizzlies from signing him in 2016 to a four-year, $94 million contract.

His first season in Memphis featured career lows in just about every statistical category, including games played (34) as this season, like the previous two, was cut short because of a knee injury.

As good as Thomas has been, him getting that Brinks truck-like payday will hinge heavily on how quickly he returns to the floor and how well he performs while proving the hip is a non-issue.

“When that time comes, free agency comes, I’m going to get what I deserve, get what I earned,” said Thomas, who later told CSNNE.com that he’s in the process of finding a new agent. “That’s just what it is and we’re going to go from there.

Thomas added, “until then I’m going to do whatever I can to get back on the floor healthy and then hopefully be in the (NBA) Finals next year and win a championship.”

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Stars, studs and duds: Kyrie won't call win vs. Pistons 'payback'

Stars, studs and duds: Kyrie won't call win vs. Pistons 'payback'

Kyrie Irving wouldn’t call Boston’s 91-81 win at Detroit payback, even though the Nov. 27 loss to the Pistons was very much on the mind of him and his teammates.

As he went through the keys to Boston’s win, near the end he said, “just remember what they did to us at home. That was also in the back of our minds.”

Irving added, “I wouldn’t call it payback. It’s just always good when you can respond the way you want to, especially on their home floor just like they did on our home floor. They took care of business. We wanted to come here and take care of business.”

Indeed, beating Detroit was more about bouncing back than payback for Boston which had lost a hard-fought 105-102 game at San Antonio on Friday night.

“In order to continue to build character and an identity for our team,” Irving said. “You have to be able to respond to losses like that with a quick turnaround.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 91-81 win over Detroit.

 

STARS

Aron Baynes

There were others who scored more points and grabbed more rebounds, but it was the play of Baynes that really set the tone for the Celtics’ victory. His ability to not just defend Andre Drummond, but also to provide help against Detroit’s dribble-penetrators and still be in position to protect the rim and rebound, was impressive. He would finish with six points and a season-high 13 rebounds.

Tobias Harris

He began the game getting buckets and didn’t really let up, finishing with a game-high 19 points in part by using his quickness when defended by a bigger defender (Al Horford), or use his strength to bully less physically imposing players (Jaylen Brown).

Al Horford

His inside-outside game offensively was a major key for the Celtics all game. Horford led the Celtics with a near double-double, tallying a team-high 18 points to go with nine rebounds in addition to dishing out six assists.

 

STUDS

Avery Bradley

It wasn’t a great shooting night for Bradley (12 points, 5-for-16 shooting), but he once again did an impressive job defensively especially against Kyrie Irving (16 points, 4-for-12 shooting).

Anthony Tolliver

Coming off the Pistons bench, Tolliver delivered 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting which was huge for keeping Detroit in the game.

 

DUDS

Andre Drummond

Credit Aron Baynes and company for absolutely taking him out of the game. He missed four of his five shot attempts, and the one that counted was a tip-in that upon seeing the replay looked as though it should have not counted. He led all players with 15 rebounds, but Drummond’s impact was minimal at best which as the Pistons know better than anyone, isn’t enough for them to win.

Reggie Jackson

Boston completely shut Jackson down as the former Boston College star missing all nine of his shot attempts while tallying just two points on a pair of free throws.

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Baynes' play key for Celtics in 91-81 victory over Pistons

Baynes' play key for Celtics in 91-81 victory over Pistons

Aron Baynes was a game-time decision after taking a blow to the stomach against San Antonio on Friday.

He played on Sunday afternoon, and delivered one of his best games of the season which was indeed a kick in the stomach to Detroit whose fourth-quarter comeback efforts came up short in Boston’s 91-81 victory.

Baynes didn't score much (six points), but his defense and rebounding (13 rebounds) would prove pivotal in Boston's win. 

Boston (23-5) got off to a slow start but spent most of the game playing with a lead. Al Horford led the Celtics with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists while Kyrie Irving chipped in with 16 points. Tobias Harris led all scorers with 19 points.

But Detroit, among the best comeback teams in the NBA, didn’t go down quietly.

Detroit (14-12), which has now lost six straight, were on the comeback trail with a 12-0 run in the fourth that coincided with the Celtics missing 12 straight shots.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens had seen enough when he called a time-out with 4:19 to play and Boston clinging to a 79-75 lead.

Jaylen Brown ended the shot-making slump for Boston with a driving basket to the lane, only for Andre Drummond to get a tip-in – his first points of the game – cut into Boston’s lead.

As Detroit fought back, the Celtics continued to make all the necessary plays which included a 3-pointer by Al Horford and a driving lay-up by Marcus Smart, the latter putting Boston ahead 89-80.

While they were getting it done down the stretch, the player of the game for Boston was easily Aron Baynes.

A game-time decision after taking a blow to the stomach at San Antonio on Friday, Baynes had six points and a season-high 13 rebounds in addition to doing an impressive job in limiting Drummond all game.

Drummond, who had 26 points and 22 rebounds against Boston on Nov. 27, was held to just six points and 15 rebounds.

Detroit opened the game with a 10-4 run, looking to pick up where they left off when the two met on Nov. 27 and the Pistons handed Boston a 118-108 defeat, Boston’s worst loss of the season.

However, the Celtics bounced back with a 11-0 run of their own and continued to play with a lead that slowly but surely, steadily expanded.

Leading 44-37 at the half, Boston scored the first five points of the third – a tip-in by Baynes, a Brown lay-up and a technical free throw by Kyrie Irving after Drummond was whistled for a technical with 10:23 to play in the third.

Boston would spend most of the third quarter milking a double-digit lead, with the quarter ending with the Celtics ahead 73-59 as Terry Rozier drained a 3-pointer that just beat the third quarter horn sounding off.

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