Isaiah Thomas is a Denver Nugget now, having signed a one-year, $2 million veteran’s minimum contract to re-establish his value in hopes of getting his free-agent payoff next year.
But he almost did that re-establishment in a very familiar place.
In an extensive interview with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnaowski, Thomas said he reached out to Danny Ainge and, in the course of their 15- to 20-minute conversation said: “If the opportunity is there, I would just like to let you know that I’d love to come back” to the Celtics.
(He told the same thing to our own A. Sherrod Blakely just before signing with Denver.)
According to Wojnaowski, Ainge “was open to the idea” but had to wait until Marcus Smart’s restricted-free-agency situation was settled. By the time it was — last Friday — Thomas had joined the Nuggets.
“S—, I’d have gone back,” Thomas told Wojnaowski. “I don’t hold grudges.”
The ironic part is, it was his last games in a Celtic uniform that probably prevented from getting the money he thought he’d be getting in free agency this summer.
“If I didn’t play in the playoffs (in 2017, when his hip injury became worse), I’d be OK,” Thomas told Wojnaowski. “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.
“They probably would’ve traded me anyway. But I would’ve been in position to show my worth, and last year I was never in position to show my worth.”