INDEPENDENCE (92.3 the Fan) – Isaiah Thomas is coming off of the best season of his NBA career, a career which started with the final selection of the 2011 draft.
Just as there were questions with a 5-foot-9 point guard declaring early to become a pro, there are still questions about the All-NBA second-teamer as he moves teams in his prime.
Thomas has done all he can to quell any doubts about his on-court prowess, but with medical questions that will keep him off the court for an indefinite time, the basketball questions will follow. In the meantime, the two-time All-Star is used to being doubted.
“That’s just been my story,” Thomas said. “I’m fine with it.
“I can say if it was something new. I averaged 29 a game, and they’re still going to talk. I can be MVP one day and they are still going to say something is wrong with my game and that’s about it. I accept that. I’m going to keep using that as motivation, keep fighting it and keep grinding.”
The Cavaliers’ replacement for superstar Kyrie Irving will need to fight for a lot of things outside of his just ailing hip. When the time comes, Thomas will be questioned on whether or not he is the same kind of championship piece that Irving was.
Irving in Thomas are similar in a number of ways as offense-heavy, defensively criticized guards. Thomas wrote in his article from the Players’ Tribune on Wednesday that he thought the Celtics did not get better in the trade for Irving.
“I think we have something that (the Cavaliers) didn’t have, and that’s toughness, grit, and I think just people who have been counted out their whole careers,” he said. “Me and Jae are cut from the same cloth. We’ve been counted out and we’re just going to keep fighting no matter what people say.”
There are extenuating circumstances to this year being the season that he battles through this injury. This season is the final of a 4-year, $27 million contract Thomas signed with the Sacramento Kings before being dealt to Boston.
Thomas even changed agents, parting with Excel Sports Management before the season. His next agency will be the third of his current contract.
The impending free agent told CSN New England in July that the Celtics would have to ‘back up the Brinks truck’ to re-sign him, and that he was a ‘max player.’
As a shorter point guard entering his thirties, there is already weariness from front offices about signing Thomas to the max deal that he covets. Combined with the injury that could sideline him for a good chunk of the season, it would be foolish for any team to offer a max at this point in time.
Luckily for Thomas, he has just under the next calendar year to get back to full health and impress potential suitors.
Until that time comes, the ever-confident Thomas will continue to bet on himself.
“When it comes to basketball, there is no pressure,” he said Thursday. “I’ve worked too hard to even think about pressure. When I get that chance to be out on the court and play at a level I can play at, that will take care of everything else.”