Isaiah Thomas had an eventful press conference on Saturday afternoon following Cavs practice as the point guard finally addressed reports that he was the one that came at Kevin Love in the now infamous team meeting from last week.
While Thomas denied he antagonized Love, he did acknowledge he brought up the subject and had questions for why Love left the game against the Thunder. It was clearly an effort to diffuse a situation that’s led to rampant speculation about Thomas’ place in the Cavs locker room and, more specifically, his relationship with Love, especially after their bizarre interaction after a Love rebound on Friday when he handed the ball awkwardly to Thomas like he was a child.
In any case, the Love portion of his availability on Saturday garnered the headlines, but there were plenty of other interesting quotes from Thomas, including a particularly feisty interaction with The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd about his shot selection. Lloyd asked if there had been any conversation about trying to change his shot selection or if he’d heard those frustrations from teammates that he was shooting too much or taking poor shots. Thomas scoffed at the notion that he should change his style and then questioned why they would think he would do anything different.
“I mean if they worried about my shot selection they must’ve not seen me play the last few years,” Thomas said. “That’s all I can say about that. If somebody’s worried about that, what did you trade me here for? To not shoot? To not find my rhythm? To not be Isaiah Thomas? I can’t be anybody else. So whoever’s saying that, I don’t know what I’m here for if I’m not here to score the ball and make plays after being out seven months.”
Thomas clearly isn’t happy with the way he’s being portrayed as one of Cleveland’s chief problems on the roster right now. At another point in the press conference he called it “not fair” that he was being blamed for the Cavs’ defensive issues when the team was struggling defensively before he was in the rotation.
He does have a point in saying this is the way he’s always played. The problem is he’s not being nearly as efficient or effective this season as he was last season, which always should’ve been the expectation, healthy or not, that his insane shooting season (often on very difficult looks) would not be completely sustainable. That said, he’s gone beyond just a regression to the mean with his efficiency and is having his worst shooting season of his career, which can assuredly be attributed to rust and the difficulty of working into a new situation after his hip injury.
Thomas’ frustration with the situation is understandable, but so is that of the Cavs. This is a team that’s supposed to be a contender and if Thomas isn’t playing well above average on offense he’s going to be a net negative because of the defensive liability. That said, Thomas certainly needs time to regain that rhythm and, as he’s noted before, the general lack of practice time means he’s got to work through those issues on the floor in NBA games which will yield these kinds of results.
It will be fascinating to see how this plays out over the coming two weeks prior to the trade deadline because it’s apparent there’s an ever-growing rift between Thomas and the Cavs. One only has to look to the anonymous quotes coming out of the organization speaking negatively about the point guard and his defensive nature in media availability to see that. If things don’t see a turnaround soon, it wouldn’t be a major surprise if he were to find himself in more serious trade rumors than the rampant speculation that seems to be about everyone on the Cavs roster.