Celtics

Thomas on contract: 'They better bring out the Brinks truck'

Thomas on contract: 'They better bring out the Brinks truck'

LAS VEGAS – Even before he was named to his first All-Star team in February, the Boston Celtics and most of the NBA for that matter saw Isaiah Thomas as one of the best bargains out there.

Now that the salary cap has increased, Thomas’ contract is a steal in every sense of the word with the value of his contract actually decreasing in each of his final two seasons (he’s due $6.6 million for 2016-2017 and $6.2 million for 2017-2018).

Knowing he has a couple years remaining, Thomas said he definitely plans to cash in – literally – when he hits free agency in the summer of 2018.

“They better bring out the Brinks truck,” quipped Thomas during the Celtics’ summer league game on Saturday against Chicago. “They’re paying everybody else. I gotta get something.”

Indeed, Thomas has seen teammates come and go this summer due to contracts unlike anything the NBA has seen before. Former Celtic Evan Turner, a Sixth Man of the year candidate a year ago, signed a four-year, $70 million contract with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Meanwhile, Boston added Al Horford who had spent his first nine NBA seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. The Celtics inked him to a four-year, $113 million contract.

Thomas signed his current deal, a four-year, $27 million contract, back in 2014. If he were a free agent now, Thomas could potentially have landed a deal paying something close to that … per season.

Of course the ginormous salaries being handed out now are fueled by the extremely lucrative national TV deals signed by the NBA, which has raised the salary cap pass the $95 million plateau.

And a year from now, the league’s salary cap is expected to increase again.

“I’m trying not to worry about it,” Thomas said. “It’s out there. “I’m just being myself and play and hopefully that takes care of everything else.”

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

Team USA stunned by Australia, 98-94; Marcus Smart debuts for US

Team USA stunned by Australia, 98-94; Marcus Smart debuts for US

Marcus Smart made his debut for Team USA, which saw its 78-game international winning streak end in a 98-94 loss to Australia early Saturday in Melbourne.

Smart,  who had been bothered by a calf injury throughout training camp as the Americans prepare for the FIBA World Cup next week in China, started and scored seven points, had three assists and one rebound in nine minutes. Fellow Celtics guard Kemba Walker led Team USA with 22 points.

The other members of the Celtics contingent - a.k.a. "Team Shamrock" - Jayson Tatum (five points) and Jaylen Brown (eight points) came off the bench as the US, which had a 10-point lead in the third quarter, lost for the first time since 2006 with NBA players on its roster.

Former Celtics big man Aron Baynes, now with the Phoenix Suns, had 13 points for the Aussies, who were led by a 30-point performance from Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs. 

With an injury to the Los Angeles Lakers' Kyle Kuzma keeping him out of the World Cup, the 12-player US roster is set and it will include all four Celtics. The Americans open against the Czech Republic on Sept. 1 in China.

The last US loss with NBA players was in the 2006 world championship semifinals to Greece, a team that next week will feature NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Team USA enters the World Cup No. 1 in the FIBA rankings 

“They wanted it more than us tonight,” Walker said. “Lesson learned for us.”

 

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2019 FIBA World Cup live stream: How to watch Team USA vs. Australia exhibition

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USA TODAY Sports photo

2019 FIBA World Cup live stream: How to watch Team USA vs. Australia exhibition

After drawing the largest crowd for a basketball game ever in Australia on Thursday (51,218), Team USA and Australia return to Marvel Stadium late tonight (2 p.m. Saturday in Melbourne) to play another tuneup for the FIBA World Cup.

A trio of Celtics - part of "Team Shamrock" for the US - all played key roles in helping the US defeat the Aussies 102-86. Kemba Walker scored a game-high 23 points, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown each scored 11. The fourth Celtic on Team USA, Marcus Smart, who hasn't played because of a calf injury, didn't play in that game but has been cleared to return and could be back tonight.

Team Australia includes a former Celtic, Aron Baynes.

The Americans have one more tuneup in Australia, Monday against Team Canada, before the FIBA World Cup opens in China against the Czech Republic on Sept. 1. 

Here's how to watch tonight's game:

When: Saturday, Aug. 24, midnight
TV Channel: NBA TV
Live Stream: Twitch and NBA.com

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