NBA free agency 2018: Isaiah Thomas was open to return to Celtics this offseason
Celtics GM Danny Ainge wasn't opposed to it either, but wanted to sort out their situation with Marcus Smart first
It's been a bit of a slow week in terms of free agency news, but here's some new info to spice things up. An Isaiah Thomas-Boston Celtics reunion wasn't out of the cards this summer. The former All-Star guard, who ended up signing a one-year deal with the Denver Nuggets, had a long discussion with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski recently.
Thomas talked about his injuries, the obstacles he's overcome in his career and whether or not he should have kept playing through the 2017 Playoffs. (He thinks it was the right decision for him at the time, given what he was going through, but probably shouldn't have played when considering the long-term implications. He added that he didn't think Boston went about it the right way either.)
For the most part, it was pretty much exactly what you expected to hear. But it was certainly a surprise when IT noted that he was interested in a return to the Celtics, and even had a conversation with GM Danny Ainge about the possibility. Via ESPN:
Before finalizing the agreement with Denver, Thomas had reached out to Boston GM Danny Ainge. They talked for 15 to 20 minutes, Thomas says, and he told Ainge: "If the opportunity is there, I would just like to let you know that I'd love to come back."
Ainge says his mind was open to the idea, but the Celtics needed to work through Marcus Smart's restricted-free-agency discussions before they could consider making an offer to Thomas. Ainge was willing to continue the conversation, but Thomas accepted the Nuggets' offer before Boston had reached its new deal with Smart.
"S---, I'd have gone back," Thomas says. "I don't hold grudges."
Considering how Thomas' tenure in Boston came to a close, it's pretty interesting to hear that he was open to going back. Part of that may have been simply the lack of offers out there for him, but it wasn't that long ago that Thomas and Ainge were having a war of words through the media.
In the aftermath of the trade, Thomas told Sports Illustrated that heto Ainge again. Which, honestly, considering the circumstances of that deal, was understandable. A short time later, Ainge fired back, he wasn't sure what the Celtics owed Thomas. It was an awkward, and almost embarrassing end to what had been a pretty special run for the Celtics.
So on just a personal level, it's nice to see that Thomas and Ainge have moved past the hard feelings. From a basketball perspective, Thomas showing back up would have been interesting. The TD Garden faithful would have loved the move, as Thomas is essentially a cult hero in the city.
However, given how crowded the Celtics' roster is heading into next season, it may not have been the best place for Thomas to show other teams that he's back to being himself. He'll probably get much more of an opportunity to shine with the Nuggets.
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