Isaiah Thomas is a long way away from the max contract he dreamed of getting from the Boston Celtics. After two trades, a long rehabilitation of his hip injury and a lot of anger, though, it turns out he would still be willing to play in Boston.
Thomas was hurt by the trade out of Boston last season and once said he might never talk to Celtics general manager Danny Ainge ever again. That has since changed, and in a new interview Thomas revealed that not only did he reach out to the Celtics this summer as a free agent, there was mutual interest in getting a deal done before Thomas signed elsewhere.
Thomas spoke to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski in an interview that was published on Monday in which Thomas admitted his grudge for the trade is gone and he was willing to return to Boston. He instead, of course, signed a $2 million deal with the Denver Nuggets earlier this month, the first step in rehabbing a career that’s faltered since playing deep into the postseason with a hip injury.
Thomas was upset with how the Celtics handled that injury and his unceremonious shipment out of town, but he said on Monday that all is forgiven with the franchise he wouldn’t mind playing for once more.
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.”
There’s something to be said for scarcity forcing his hand here, but according to Wojnarowski, the Celtics were actually interested in making that happen. But their first priority was getting a new deal for Marcus Smart locked down, something that didn’t happen until last week. Instead of waiting, Thomas decided to take the Nuggets deal and that was that. Still, the last year now seems to be water under the bridge for Thomas and Ainge.
“S—, I’d have gone back,” Thomas says. “I don’t hold grudges.”
Thomas still has a lot to prove with Denver this season, and he still feels he deserves a max contract. In the interview, he stressed that teams are afraid of his injury and he needs to show them that he can still play. Whether he can do that as a backup point guard for Denver is tough to say, but at least his relationship with Ainge and the Celtics seems to be in better shape than it was last summer.