Storyline: Isaiah Thomas Injury

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Five months have passed and Thomas rises from his kitchen table to stretch his right hip. “No doubt about it, I should have sat out the playoffs,” he says. “No way around it, I made it worse.” After Game 2 of the East finals, the Celtics shut down Thomas, and he braced for surgery. “I thought I’d get it done in a couple days and start rehab,” he recounts. Thomas went to New York City for an appointment with Bryan Kelly, a leading orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery and an expert in hip preservation. According to Thomas, Kelly prescribed rest rather than surgery and asked him to return for another MRI in six weeks, when inflammation diminished. Thomas, a regular at Seattle’s renowned pick-up runs, wasn’t even allowed to shoot with Jamal Crawford.
2 months ago via ESPN

If Isaiah Thomas were to choose to go under the knife, the timetable may not be ideal for the Cavs. The average recovery time after a labral repair surgery is just more than six months. Such a time frame would put Thomas back on the court in mid-March if he received surgery tomorrow. But recoveries from surgery have lasted as long as 10 months, as was the case with Wilson Chandler in 2015 (his second labral tear repair in a four-year span). Each day that Thomas delays could make the situation worse. For a 32-year-old LeBron James hell-bent on dethroning the Golden State Warriors — and doing so without the help of Kyrie Irving — this is not a workable situation.

Orthopedic hip surgeon Derek Ochiai offered potential scenarios for Thomas in his return. “When you have a labral tear from impingement, that means that the way that Isaiah Thomas’s hip is shaped, it’s shaped in a way that’s not round,” Ochiai said. “In certain positions, his hip is not round on round. That’s why it’s called impingement, the bone will impinge because it’s not a round-on-round joint. Once you tear your labrum from that, that’s the most common cause of labral tears in any athlete, that tear is not going to heal. It’s always going to be torn, the question is how do you treat that? “And there are some high-level athletes who are playing professional sports right now who have labral tears from impingement who are doing fine.”

According to a report from The Athletic, Thomas’ recovery and health status — a clear point of contention in negotiations that ultimately landed the Cavs an extra draft pick to sweeten the deal — could drag on as long as the All-Star break. “No one is willing to put a timeline on when Thomas might return to the court. The fact he isn’t running yet certainly is not a good sign. One source with experience dealing with the type of hip problems Thomas is facing predicted it could be January or even the All-Star break before Thomas returns to game action. That doesn’t leave much time for a new player to establish chemistry and rhythm with a team trying to compete for a championship.”

Gilbert’s fingerprints were all over the drama that’s unfolded over the past week. Thomas’s health is what held up the deal, but according to multiple league sources with knowledge of Cleveland’s thought process, the unprotected Nets pick and Crowder were the pieces that Cleveland valued the most—those were the assets that got the deal done, not Thomas. The perception of the trade was that the Cavaliers and Celtics swapped franchise point guards, but for the Cleveland front office (and its owner), Thomas was the icing, not the cake.
2 months ago via ESPN

The Cleveland-Boston standoff over Isaiah Thomas’s health also signaled the rest of the league: The bidding for Kyrie Irving is still open. It looks unlikely the Cleveland Cavaliers will pry a better haul than the Boston Celtics’ standing offer of Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected pick in the 2018 draft — even with Thomas’ status so uncertain due to a lingering hip injury. That may embolden Boston to draw the line at one or two more second-round picks after Cleveland finally asked them Tuesday night for extra compensation.
2 months ago via ESPN

Boston was forthright about the injury in talks with Cleveland before the teams agreed to a trade on Aug. 22, sources say, but Cleveland’s doctors may come to a different conclusion about Thomas’ prognosis for the coming season — the last before LeBron James enters free agency as a flight risk again. If recovery from various hip ailments, including a bone bruise, does not proceed smoothly, there is at least a slight chance Thomas would miss most of the 2017-18 season, sources say. (Thomas disagrees.)

Thomas told ESPN that doctors said his torn labrum will not affect how long he plays. However, Thomas did indicate he may not be ready for the start of the season. “There’s never been an indication that I wouldn’t be back, and there’s never been an indication that this is something messing up my career,” he said. “Maybe I am not going to be back as soon this season as everyone wants me to be, but I’m going to be back, and I’m going to be the same player again. No doctor has told me anything different than that.”

“Boston is resisting, and will initially at least, resist this idea,” Wojnarowski said. “Boston believes that it was completely transparent with Cleveland about where Thomas was physically, his rehab. Cleveland’s version of this is that they didn’t realize how long Thomas could potentially be out this season, he’s in the final year of his contract, and obviously, that matches up with what will likely be the final year of LeBron’s current deal, and so there’s going to be a showdown between these two teams that may last a couple more days.”
2 months ago via ESPN

Adrian Wojnarowski: “It puts Isaiah Thomas in a really difficult place. He’s gonna be a free agent at the end of this season and he’s looking for the biggest financial score of his career. And both teams dragging him through this is really unfair to his future because he may very well get through and be fully recovered when he gets into free agency next year. The focus is really on how soon can he play this season. But it’s certainly damaging his value around the league, and probably unfairly so.”
2 months ago via ESPN

Because Thomas is in the final year of his contract — which coincides with LeBron James’ opt-out next summer — Cleveland has an urgency to get Thomas on the court this year. All along, Boston has believed it was clear in its assessment of Thomas’ physical status and that information was communicated to the Cavaliers in the conversations prior to Tuesday’s trade, league sources said. In a telephone conference call with reporters after the trade was announced, Celtics GM Danny Ainge admitted that Thomas’ physical condition played “some” role in trading Thomas to Cleveland as part of the Irving package.

The Cavaliers are indeed pausing to consider a “concern that we have” regarding Isaiah Thomas’ right hip, a source told cleveland.com, while Kyrie Irving is undergoing his physical today in Boston. Two sources with knowledge of the Cavs’ thinking said the team is conducting a “very deep and thorough review process” on Thomas, whom Cleveland acquired Tuesday in a blockbuster trade along with Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn No. 1 pick for Irving.
2 months ago via ESPN

In the aftermath of issues resulting from Isaiah Thomas’ physical examination on Friday, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics are planning a telephone call for Saturday to discuss the status of the teams’ blockbuster trade, league sources told ESPN. The proposed deal sending Cleveland’s four-time All-Star guard Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and a 2018 first-round pick via Brooklyn has been thrust into uncertainty with medical questions surrounding Thomas’ injured hip, league sources told ESPN.
2 months ago via ESPN

It is possible that Cleveland could request further compensation from Boston before it’ll approve the trade, league sources said. Cleveland has until Thursday to make a final decision on approving the trade, sources said. Cleveland can veto the deal based on a failed physical, sending players back to their respective teams. Thomas took the exam in Cleveland on Friday before flying back home to the West Coast, league sources said. “It’s very sensitive situation,” one source involved in the process told ESPN.
2 months ago via ESPN

Thomas said he’s been just resting since his injured hip forced him out of the Eastern Conference Finals in May, but that he recently got back in the gym to start getting back into shape. “The hip is great,” Thomas told the Herald on Saturday during his annual basketball clinic at BU, where he was hosting more than 400 campers. “It’s going well. Rehabbing it, but it’s going well. It’s a real slow rehab process, but it’s getting better and that’s what it’s all about.”
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October 23, 2017 | 11:12 pm EDT Update