Storyline: Isaiah Thomas Injury

258 rumors in this storyline

More Rumors in this Storyline

Chris Dempsey: Isaiah Thomas continues to rehab from arthroscopic hip surgery in March. His availability for training camp next week remains in question. Here is Tim Connelly, #Nuggets President of Basketball Ops, on Thomas’ status during an interview for Wednesday’s Nuggets 360 on @AltitudeTV

More than three hours after the first day of practice wrapped up last Thursday, Isaiah Thomas was still working out on the court inside UNLV’s practice facility with Phil Handy, one of the NBA’s top player development coaches, who was recently hired by the Toronto Raptors. Despite still recovering from hip surgery earlier this year, Thomas was in Vegas and participating as much as he could, wanting to show how much it meant to him to be part of the program. It also served as yet another reminder of how much has changed for him since he exited the 2017 playoffs with a hip injury that sent his career careening in a very different direction from where it was not long ago.
3 months ago via ESPN

“If I didn’t play in the playoffs, I’d be OK,” Thomas says. “I’d be getting paid. I’d be who I am — who I was. But you couldn’t tell me in that moment in time — with everything I was going through — that, OK, I should just sit out. I don’t think Boston went about it the right way, as well. “But at the same time, it was hard for me to sit out. I just lost my sister, one of the closest people in my life. Basketball was the only thing that was going to help me out. I played until I literally couldn’t play anymore. And that was not a good business decision if I was looking in the long term, but I was looking in the ‘right now.’ That’s just what it was.

Thomas has dropped in free-agent stature almost through no fault of his own. The problem here is his hip, which front-office execs around the league fear is either pre-arthritic or already arthritic. Maybe the only way that Thomas has hurt his own free agency has been by not choosing to have hip surgery sooner during last season, when he was an All-Star and an MVP candidate for the Celtics. “It’s a red flag that he did not have surgery on it,” one general manager told Sporting News. “If you have a problem that can be fixed heading into your free-agent year, you get surgery. If there is concern that you can’t fix it with surgery, that means probably there is something more wrong. It is something that, obviously, the doctors will look at closely.”

Off the floor, he would be subject to more swelling and increased pain. Of course, he’s gotten accustomed to hip pain in recent years. But any team that signs him this summer will protect itself against the possibility that Thomas has serious hip damage. “I think everybody likes the guy,” the GM said. “You root for him. But do you want to pay him $12 or 14 million when you know you’re also paying for all the headaches that his health could give you? Someone will get him, but it’s going to be a low-risk deal.”

A year ago, Thomas seemed destined to land a maximum contract in the summer of 2018. Now, he faces a questionable market in which there are already only a few teams with max slots available. Will anyone want to spend that kind of money on a player with an unproven hip? Thomas said he was unconcerned with free agency. “The results will show that the surgery only fixed it,” he said. “The world knew that I never got my labrum fixed when I was going through that and trying to heal on my own. … The decision that I made it felt like it was the best decision for me personally, individually, as a basketball player for the rest of my career.”

“I don’t know what will happen in terms of [Isaiah Thomas’] contract, but he deserves to make money in this game,” said Olynyk, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Heat this summer. “He’s brought a lot to the game, brought a lot to that city in Boston. Anywhere he goes, he gives his heart and soul to the game of basketball. Last year, [during our playoff run] we didn’t know it, but he was sacrificing his own career for everybody in that city. No one knew that at the time.

So what’s next? There are only a handful of teams with real cap space this summer and even fewer where Thomas makes sense. The Sixers will have room — they also have Markelle Fultz. The Mavericks have room. But there’s Dennis Smith, too. Chicago and Atlanta are rebuilding and make no sense for a near-30-year-old point guard coming off a brutal season. “No one is going long there [with a deal], in all likelihood,” former Cavs GM David Griffin told Yahoo Sports. “[The hip] is a very significant factor. His whole game is predicated upon quickness and creating shot separation. If he can’t do that, he is a small non-defender.”

Thomas, meanwhile, estimated he’s at about 75-80 percent as he continues to work his way back from that hip injury. A hindered Thomas, coupled with an injured-and-absent Love, could spell disastrous for a Cavs team that will fall to fourth in the East if they lose to Miami at home on Wednesday. 20. “I don’t have anything I used to have right now and I know I will at one point, but it’s just a process that I gotta really be patient with myself,” Thomas said. “Set small goals to reach, because coming back I just want it all right now. It’s just not realistic for anybody that’s been out as long as I have.”

Isaiah Thomas can envision his emotional return to TD Garden if he’s cleared to play against his former team, the Boston Celtics, next Wednesday. But as the two-time All-Star point guard found out days ago in Sacramento, where he pushed to make his Cavaliers debut, the team’s training and medical staff will not make a rash decision. Thomas took another step in his recovery from a torn labrum in his right hip Friday, participating in a five-on-five scrimmage against teammates at St. Helena High School. Coach Tyronn Lue said Thomas pushed the pace, got into the paint and scored on pick-and-rolls. “Really looked good,” Lue said in a conference call with beat writers.

“When that time comes to where I’ll be out there, I’m sure everybody is going to know and I’ll be out there playing the way I’ve always played,” said Thomas, who hosted a holiday party for some area kids at the team’s training facility. “I’m just trying to get as close as 100 percent as possible and to be out there to be special. Not just to be out there and be another body. However long that takes — it might be next week, it might be a week after that. We don’t know and we’re really not trying to put a date on it because it just depends on how my recovery is.”

It’s looking like Isaiah Thomas will not play on Christmas Day when the Cavaliers engage in their Finals rematch with the Golden State Warriors, though an exact timetable for his Cleveland debut remains uncertain. A source close to Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Isaiah Thomas told ESPN that his camp has ruled out a return before Christmas, taking Tuesday’s road game against the Milwaukee Bucks and Thursday’s home game against the Chicago Bulls off the table for his Cavs debut.

A source said there was a chance Thomas could play Dec. 30 in Utah, but a two-day mini-vacation the Cavs have planned in Napa Valley, Calif., between a Dec. 27 game against Sacramento and the game against the Jazz could be a hurdle. Following the game against the Warriors, the next big game on Cleveland’s schedule is Jan. 4 in Boston against the Celtics. It would be Thomas’ return to Boston, but falls on the second night of back-to-back games for the Cavaliers.

Thomas has been recovering from a hip injury suffered in last season’s playoffs since he was dealt to Cleveland in the offseason trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics. But Thomas has yet to practice with the Cavs in a full-court, 5-on-5 setting, multiple team sources told ESPN. Part of the reason for that is Cleveland, a veteran-laden team that has reeled off 18 victories in its past 19 games, rarely practices.

Given his on-court work, the possibility exists that he will return prior to the team’s original Jan. 1 date — and his teammates are excited to get him back. “He’s a veteran, too, so he kind of knows what to expect,” LeBron James said. “Obviously this has been another difficult challenge for him with this injury but we as the other guys that’s been playing have to figure out how to get him involved and get him acclimated as quick as possible.”
More HoopsHype Rumors
October 21, 2018 | 9:37 pm EDT Update
October 21, 2018 | 8:09 pm EDT Update