Celtics

Isaiah Thomas: Coming back to Celtics would make his story 'that much better'

Isaiah Thomas: Coming back to Celtics would make his story 'that much better'

Isaiah Thomas was, and still is, a beloved figure for the Boston Celtics fanbase.

Thomas, of course, was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of the Kyrie Irving trade in 2017. It was a tough end to an incredible two-plus seasons in Boston for the veteran guard.

Injuries have prevented Thomas from getting back to the All-Star form he showed with the C's during the 2016-17 season, and he hasn't been able to earn a regular spot in the Denver Nuggets rotation this season. In fact, he was removed from the rotation last week by Nuggets head coach Michael Malone.

Thomas' future in the NBA beyond this season is unknown, but it sounds like he'd be open to coming back to Boston to finish his career if the chance came.

"At some point," Thomas told reporters before Monday night's Celtics-Nuggets game at TD Garden. "These were the most fun times in my career. I turned into a superstar here. The world knew my name when I played for the Boston Celtics. Not saying they don't now, but playing for Celtics changed my whole career on and off the floor. This city and this organization treated my family with 100 percent respect. Decisions happen, I never hold any  grudges against anybody, even if I'm not for that decision. 

"You never know what can happen. My options are always open no matter what it is. If I end up back here at some point, that would make the story that much better."

Thomas has struggled this season for Denver, but he's not feeling any ill-effects physically, and that's one reason why he's confident plenty of good times lay ahead for him as an NBA player.

"I just want a legit opportunity," Thomas said. "Whatever the role may be, it's gonna be. I know I can play at a high level again. Given the opportunity, I can be an All-Star, I can be all-NBA, I can be all that because physically I feel great. But it's all about the opportunity. If I get an opportunity, I'm going to be ready for it and take full advantage of it. When this summer comes, I'll figure out what's the best opportunity and situation for myself and my family and then go from there."

There's going to be a lot of emotion at TD Garden on Monday night, even if Thomas doesn't play. The Celtics will play a tribute video for him on the jumbotron during  the first quarter, and the crowd will give him a much-deserved ovation. 

Coming back to the Celtics, whether it's next season or down the road, would be a great way for Thomas to advance his career in an environment where he's going to feel plenty of love and support from the fans and the team. It's not a scenario that should be ruled out.

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Kemba Walker: Team USA focused on 'continuing to get better' after loss

Kemba Walker: Team USA focused on 'continuing to get better' after loss

The Boston Celtics make not be playing right now, but some of their core players are getting some nice experience by playing for Team USA.

This year, the Celtics have four players on the international roster including Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and the newly-signed Kemba Walker. With those four in action, many view this a chance for the C's to develop some early chemistry after issues in that department plagued them last year.

However, Team USA isn't exactly off to a great start. They lost an exhibition match against Team Australia over the weekend, marking the first time in over a decade that they had been beaten. Despite the issues, Walker isn't worried about the team's capabilities in the lead-up to their first FIBA World Cup game on Sep. 1, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic.

They say Team USA doesn’t lose, I get it, they haven’t lost in a very long time, which I understand, but it happens. Teams lose. We are just going to take this loss and build from it, that’s all we can do is continue to try our best to get better.

The real thing doesn’t start until China, so we’ve got one more game. We’re going to head to Sydney and focus on Canada and from that point out the real thing starts. That’s all we are worried about, just continuing to get better, continuing to learn each other.

Walker does have a point, and this iteration of Team USA has only been playing together for a short period of time. Still, seeing Team USA succeed and develop chemistry early would likely be a good sign for the Celtics, as it could give their quartet some needed experience playing together while also proving that they can jell with any group of players. So, they will be watching closely to see how Walker, Smart, Tatum, and Brown are able to fit into the squad.

So far, Walker has been solid and led Team USA with 22 points against Australia. He could be counted on as one of their veteran leaders and may have a chance to be the USA's leading scorer.

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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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