WASHINGTON -- It was less than a year ago that Isaiah Thomas was the darling of the NBA, the undersized scoring machine who fought through the kind of emotional pain and adversity you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy.
Then came the hip injury that would sideline him for the start of this season, followed by an unexpected trade to Cleveland that clearly left the ex-Celtic with a bitter taste in his mouth.
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That was followed by a slow start with the Cavs upon his return, which led to some straight-no-chaser comments by Thomas about the team’s fight, which -- as you can imagine -- did not go over well with teammates, Cleveland fans or the media.
And that brings us to Thomas once again being on the move.
According to ESPN, Cleveland has traded the two-time All-Star along with Channing Frye, to the Los Angeles Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. The Cavs also threw in a protected 2018 first-round pick to seal the deal.
Thomas would be the first of many players on the move from Cleveland, with the Cavs reportedly also trading away Dwyane Wade (to Miami) along with Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose (both to Utah).
There will be plenty of reports on what the Thomas deal means to the Cavs roster (they get younger) as well as the Lakers (more salary cap space in the summer by adding two expiring contracts).
But I’m most concerned about what this does for Thomas, a player that will always have a special place in the heart of Celtics fans for how he performed in his two-plus years in Boston.
While it’s true that the whole video tribute thing rubbed some folks the wrong way around here, that doesn’t diminish what Thomas did for the organization when he was a Celtic.
But history has little value in this day and age of the NBA.
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Thomas goes to Los Angeles just a few months away from hitting free agency, a time when it seemed a given that the 5-foot-9 guard was going to indeed get that Brinks truck that he talks about from time to time, to show up well stocked.
About that . . .
Thomas will get a bump in pay for sure, but it’s probably not going to be as substantial as he would want.
In Cleveland, Thomas had a chance to re-assert himself as an elite scorer who could contribute significantly to winning games.
But as the Cavs struggled before and after his return, Thomas’ impact on winning was brought into question.
Some of his comments were taken as jabs against his teammates, the coaching staff and the organization as a whole which bothered many considering his numbers offensively weren't great and some of his defensive numbers ranked among the worst all-time.
And now that he’s with the Lakers, who are more concerned with salary cap flexibility and youth development, Thomas will have a much harder time this offseason getting the kind of deal he feels his hard work and steady improvement warrant.
Which is too bad, because the way he was able to play at the highest of levels dealing with the untimely death of his younger sister, made everyone around the league for a time Isaiah Thomas fans.
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It had all the trappings of a feel-good, made-for-the-big-screen production.
But looking at how quickly things went south in Cleveland, and how unpredictable things look on the horizon with the Lakers, it’s hard to imagine that this story is going to have a happy ending for Thomas.