BOSTON – When Isaiah Thomas has been cast aside in the past, there was an undeniable disdain for that team going forward.
With the Celtics, it’s different.
He has no issues with his former coaches and teammates.
The ire of his disdain?
“I might not ever talk to Danny again,” Thomas said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. “That might not happen.”
Thomas was part of a four-player trade that sent the two-time All-Star, along with Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, a first-round pick (Brooklyn’s first-rounder in 2018) and a second-round pick (Miami’s in 2020) to the Cavs in exchange for Kyrie Irving.
“That was such an unusual situation,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters in Charlotte on Wednesday morning. “That we would have a trade between these two teams, with those caliber of players on both sides and everything else. That initial jarring is what makes it really tough, and the emotional feel you have for the guys gone which are...I can’t say enough good things about [the guys Boston traded away this summer].”
Thomas experienced some amazing highs in his final season in Boston, as well as some incredibly painful lows.
The 5-foot-9 guard led the Eastern Conference in scoring at 28.9 points per game in a season in which he was named to the All-Star team for the second season in a row, in addition to earning All-NBA second-team honors.
But on the eve of the playoffs, his younger sister Chyna Thomas was killed in a car accident. Playing with a heavy heart, Thomas delivered one of the gutsiest playoff performances ever by a Celtic, scoring a playoff career-high 53 points in a Game 2 overtime win against Washington in the second round, just hours after the funeral for his sister.
Adding to the incredibly powerful narrative of Thomas was the fact that he played with an injured right hip that in retrospect, he says should have kept him out of the postseason.
“No doubt about it,” Thomas said. “I should have sat out the playoffs. No way around it, I made it worse.”
Playing through the pain of his sister’s untimely passing and dealing with a hip injury, Thomas had reason to believe that his future in Boston was secure and that he would be looking to sign a long-term deal with the Celtics in the summer of 2018 when he becomes a free agent and could finally cash in as one of the game’s elite point guards.
But Kyrie Irving’s trade request in July changed everything.
Now, Boston is an enemy but different than Sacramento and Phoenix, two teams that tossed Thomas aside quickly that he made a point of trying to exact revenge every time he would face them afterward.
“Boston is going to be all love,” said Thomas who added there would be one notable exception – Ainge. “I’ll talk to everybody else. But what he did, knowing everything I went through, you don’t do that, bro. That’s not right. I’m not saying eff you. But every team in this situation comes out a year or two later and says, ‘We made a mistake.’ That’s what they’ll say, too.”