As we wait to see if the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics can finalize the deal to send Kyrie Irving to Beantown in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and Brooklyn's 2018 1st round draft pick, a key piece of that trade has spoken.
Thomas tells ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that despite concerns about his hip injury, "I am not damaged. I'll be back, and I'll be the same player."
That 'same' player is what the Cavaliers were counting on when they made the trade with Boston. Thomas is coming off of the best season of his career, averaging just under 29 points per game. But after bringing the two-time All-Star guard to Cleveland late last week for his physical, the Cavaliers suddenly were concerned about when...or if...Thomas would be available in 2017-18.
Neither the Cavs nor Celtics have held introductory press conferences, with the closest thing to an official welcome from either franchise being social media posts or the star players' new gear going on sale. The Cavaliers have made the case that Boston undersold them on the scope of the Thomas injury and the two sides have been in negotiations to try to find a workable solution for both teams.
"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," Thomas told Wojnarowski. "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."
"I haven't had one doctor tell me that this injury is going to hurt my career," Thomas added. "Surgery was not the best option in this case. I aggravated it in March when [Minnesota's] Karl-Anthony Towns fell on me. I kept playing on it and making it worse -- until I couldn't play anymore last season."
As far as the Cavaliers are concerned, Thomas apparently has had discussions with his potential new team. "I don't know what [the organization] is doing," Thomas told ESPN. "It's out of my control. I just want to talk about what I can control, and I know that this [hip] won't be a problem into the future."
Wojnarowski also reports that the Cavaliers are no longer trying to pry one of Boston's top young players away as additional compensation in the trade. However, the Cavs are apparently still seeking to obtain draft picks to go along with the unprotected Brooklyn first-rounder. The Celtics have two first-round picks in 2018, and four more in 2019. Wojnarowski adds that second-round compensation has been discussed.