Isaiah Thomas

Marcus Smart: Ex-Celtics teammate Isaiah Thomas 'best to ever do it under 6 feet'

Marcus Smart: Ex-Celtics teammate Isaiah Thomas 'best to ever do it under 6 feet'

Celtics fans will forever appreciate what Isaiah Thomas did for them throughout his three seasons in Boston.

The 5-foot-9 guard really burst on the scene for the C's during the 2015-16 campaign, when he played in all 82 regular season games while averaging 22.2 points and 6.2 assists. He was named to the All-Star team then, and again the following season when he averaged 28.9 points while shooting 46 percent from the field and finishing fifth in league MVP voting.

Simply put, Thomas was exactly the kind of spark plug the Celtics needed during those seasons, and it was a shock when he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the August 2017 deal that brought Kyrie Irving to Boston.

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Nearly three years later, I.T.'s contributions haven't been forgotten by the Celtics fans and players that were by his side during those thrilling seasons.

On Sunday, Thomas quote-tweeted a post from CBS Sports that highlighted his sensational 2016-17 season. He wrote, "NOBODY UNDER 6ft comes close."

Thomas' former Celtics teammate Marcus Smart agrees.

"Best to ever do it under 6’ my brother @isaiahthomas," he wrote shortly after I.T. posted his tweet.

There's no denying the immense respect Thomas and Smart still have for one another, as Thomas responded by calling Smart "one of my favorite teammates ever."

There have been some great players under the 6-foot mark, but it's hard to argue against Thomas as the most talented of the bunch. If not for the tear in his hip that derailed his promising career, he'd likely still be producing at an All-Star level.

Currently, Thomas is a free agent as he was traded from the Washington Wizards to the Los Angeles Clippers, who waived him three days later.

While we may never witness superstar I.T. again, there's hope that another team will give him a shot to prove he still has plenty left in the tank.

Celtics' recent success largely built around talent from 2011 NBA Draft

Celtics' recent success largely built around talent from 2011 NBA Draft

There were 24 selections made during the 2011 NBA draft before the Boston Celtics were on the clock. 

That pick, MarShon Brooks, was traded so the Celtics could go back two spots and get JaJuan Johnson, whose time in Boston lasted just one season. 

But that draft — which took place nine years ago on this day — has in time helped define and shape this Boston Celtics franchise in ways few would have envisioned. 

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Widely considered one of the stronger drafts during the 2010s, Boston’s success in the Post Big-3 era (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen) of the late 2000s was heavily influenced by Danny Ainge’s ability to orchestrate a slew of deals that often found the Celtics roster bolstered by a player from the 2011 draft class.

And most of those players arguably played their best basketball while a member of the Green Team.

Let’s take a look back at how they got to Boston, what they did during their time here, a memorable moment and where they are now. 

KYRIE IRVING

Draft position: No. 1 overall

How acquired: In 2017, Irving was acquired via trade from Cleveland in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, a 2018 first-round pick (Collin Sexton) and a 2020 second-round pick from Miami.

Stats in Boston: 24.1 points; 6.1 assists; .404 three-point percentage; .489 field goal percentage

Memorable moment: There’s plenty of material here, but the moment that most defined Kyrie’s time in Boston wasn’t in a game. It was during an open practice for Celtics fans during the preseason in 2018 when Irving told those in attendance that he planned to re-sign with the Celtics, “if you guys will have me back.” The good vibes from that didn’t last long. As the season wore on, Irving’s desire to remain a Celtic steadily declined before Boston’s season ended with a second-round “gentleman's sweep” at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Where are they now: Irving signed with the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2019.

ENES KANTER

Draft position: No. 3 overall

How acquired: In 2019, Kanter signed a two-year, $10 million deal with Boston.

Stats in Boston: 8.2 points; 7.7 rebounds; 1.0 assists; .566 field goal percentage

Memorable moment: For Kanter, playing on Christmas Day last year in Toronto was a huge deal. It wasn’t the date as much as it was the game being played outside of the United States. Kanter has avoided playing outside of the United States for fear of being arrested by Turkish officials who had issued an arrest warrant along with revoking his passport following his outspoken views towards the Turkish government. The Celtics won the game, which for Kanter felt like a victory regardless of the outcome.

“Coming here and stepping outside (of the United States) for the first time in years … definitely more than a game to me,” Kanter said at the time. “It’s a blessing for me to play on Christmas Day. It feels good to be out, feels good to be free, just enjoying this time. It’s amazing.”

Where are they now: Key rotation player on the Celtics roster. 

KEMBA WALKER

Draft position: No. 9 overall

How acquired: In 2019, Walker signed a four-year, $141 million deal with Boston.

Stats in Boston: 21.2 points; 4.1 rebounds; 4.9 assists; .421 field goal percentage; .377 three-point percentage

Memorable moment: Walker made eight 3’s and finished with 29 points in Boston’s 116-106 win over Dallas on Nov. 9. It was Boston’s eighth straight win to start the season. To put that in perspective, Walker never won more than seven in a row during his eight seasons in Charlotte.

Where are they now: The second-leading scorer on the Celtics roster.

MARCUS MORRIS

Draft position: No. 14 overall

How acquired: In 2017, Morris was acquired via trade from Detroit in exchange for Avery Bradley.

Stats in Boston: 13.8 points; 5.8 rebounds; 1.4 assists; .439 field goal percentage; .372 three-point percentage

Memorable moment: Trailing 97-99 with 7.7 seconds to play against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 20, 2018, Morris drained the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds to play that lifted the Celtics to a 100-99 win. He would later reveal that he had added motivation to drill a game-winner over Paul George and the Thunder. 

Where are they now: Part of the rotation with the Los Angeles Clippers.

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JAJUAN JOHNSON

Draft position: No. 27 overall

How acquired: In 2011, the Celtics swapped the No. 25 pick (MarShon Brooks) with Brooklyn for No. 27 and a future second-round pick.

Stats in Boston: 3.2 points, 1.6 rebounds while shooting 44.6 percent from the field

Memorable moment: Johnson scored 12 points on 6-for-13 shooting in a four-point win over the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 12, 2012. 

Where are they now: He spent this past season playing for Bahçeşehir Koleji of the Turkish Basketbol Süper Ligi (BSL). 

E'TWAUN MOORE

Draft position: No. 55 overall

How acquired: Selected by Boston with the 55th overall selection in 2011.

Stats in Boston: 2.9 points; 0.9 rebounds; 0.9 assists; .381 field goal percentage; .378 three-point percentage

Memorable moment: Moore scored 16 points on 5-for-6 shooting, including making all four of his 3-point attempts, in an eight-point Celtics win over Orlando in 2012. 

Where are they now: Moore currently plays for the New Orleans Pelicans. 

ISAIAH THOMAS

Draft position: No. 60 overall

How acquired: In 2015, Thomas was acquired via trade from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Marcus Thornton and a 2016 first-round pick from Cleveland.

Stats in Boston: 24.7 points; 6.0 assists; 2.7 rebounds; .443 field goal percentage; .381 three-point percentage

Memorable moment: Thomas scored 53 points in a playoff game against Washington shortly after his sister Chyna Thomas was killed in a car accident on the eve of what would have been her 23rd birthday.

Where are they now: Thomas is currently an NBA free agent after being waived by the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this season. 

2020 NBA restart: Do any free agents make sense for Celtics?

2020 NBA restart: Do any free agents make sense for Celtics?

The NBA’s pre-bubble transaction window opened Tuesday and teams can now tinker with their rosters before 22 teams relocate (fingers crossed) to Orlando to finish the 2019-20 season at Mickey Mouse’s house.

The Celtics, you’ll remember, let the trade deadline pass without activity then, once Marvin Williams elected to sign with Milwaukee, didn’t pay much mind to the buyout scrapheap. Still, the question returns anew on the ramp back to basketball: Do the Celtics need to upgrade their roster before the restart?

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Boston is at the 15-player roster limit and would need to waive a player in order to make a move (we broke it all down here) Unless there’s an injury or someone elects to sit out the bubble, we’d say it’s unlikely the Celtics make any sort of move but this is certainly a unique situation where every bit of depth could help along the way.

Let’s look at the familiar names that might be available and ponder their fit.

Click here for the gallery.