Isaiah Thomas Says Cavs ‘Were in Panic Mode’ When They Traded Him

Los Angeles Lakers’ point guard Isaiah Thomas has a simple explanation for the blockbuster February trade that resulted in him getting swapped for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.

“It’s a business,” Thomas told ESPN during an interview for the network’s E:60 program. “And the Cavs were, I mean, they were in panic mode. We were losing—a lot. And I think they felt like they needed to make a move, and they, they basically cleared house.”

Thomas and Channing Frye were shipped to the Lakers, while the Cavs acquired Rodney Hood and George Hill in a separate three-way deal with the Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings. The flurry of trades that saw the Cavs trade six players and a draft pick to bring in four new additions came shortly after the team posted a 6-12 record from Christmas through February 3.

A large portion of the blame fell on Thomas, who only logged 15 games with the Cavs after spending a significant portion of the season rehabbing from a hip injury. As the losses piled up, he reportedly called out Kevin Love, questioned his teammates’ effort, and implied the coaching staff failed to make adjustments. He also found himself on the wrong end of a hilarious meme.

“People don’t put in there that we had eight or nine new players,” Thomas added. “So it was basically a brand new team…I’m in a new system—new team, new coach, new players. And then I’ve been off for seven months. So I got to get—individually, I got to for the most part get my rhythm back, get my timing back.”

Much like Thomas, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman has since conceded that the 2017 trade that initially brought Thomas to Cleveland while shipping Kyrie Irving to Boston was a bust.

“Did it fit? Did it work? Probably not,” Altman told Joe Vardon of shortly after trading Thomas and Frye to Los Angeles. “So with those pieces, we decided to shuffle the deck and get younger and get some youthful talent with energy and enthusiasm.”

Thomas finished fifth in MVP voting after the 2016-2017 season, and many around the league believe he’ll use his time with the rebuilding Lakers as an audition for a larger contract.

“Hopefully I’m here long term, you know, with me being a free agent this summer,” Thomas said. “But if I’m not, these last 25 games I’m going to play my heart out and show the Lakers why I should be here long term.”

Thomas’ full E:60 interview is scheduled to air March 11.

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Carmelo Anthony ‘Done’ With NBA Refs

According to Royce Young, Carmelo Anthony last week said, “You look at somebody wrong, you get a technical foul. You say one wrong thing, you get a technical foul.” Last night, it was true. Russell Westbrook was ejected after receiving two technicals for yelling at the referee, after the ref blatantly missed a call on Westbrook. The ref instead called a traveling violation on Westbrook, which he didn't respond kindly to. 

Westbrook finished the game with 19 points, 16 rebounds, and 9 assists while leading the Thunder to a 95-88 victory over the Sacramento Kings. However, Carmelo Anthony and head coach Billy Donovan weren't happy with the officials after the game. Anthony stated that he was “done with them” when speaking to reporters last night. 

Westbrook also didn't speak with reporters after the game (duh) which is a good thing because it probably saved him some money from a fine he would've received. Young points out that this was the second straight home game that Westbrook left the locker room before speaking with reporters. The Thunder have been up and down all season long, and still haven't figured out their identity. They sit at fifth in the Western Conference at 24-20, but if they figure this thing out, lead by last season's MVP and DPOY candidate, Paul George—the sky is the limit for this Thunder team. 

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Isaiah Thomas Is Now a Certified Celtics Legend

Over the summer, the Boston Celtics went all in pursuing free agent Kevin Durant. Not only did Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens bring their own players, they even enlisted Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to help recruit. The hope was that Brady, the reigning Boston-area champion, could help convince KD to become the next Celtics great. Little did any of them know, that next great was with them the whole time.

Isaiah Thomas came to the Celtics in February of 2015 as part of a three-team deal with the Pistons and the Suns. Thomas was the last pick of the 2011 Draft, 60th overall, selected by the Sacramento Kings. The 5’9” Thomas was a revelation for a Kings team desperately in need of one, but they already had Darren Collison, so they traded Thomas to the Suns for Alex Oriakhi—the 57th pick in the 2013 Draft, he’d never play a single game in the NBA—and a trade exception. Kings gonna Kings.

The thought this past summer was that Durant could become the next Celtic in line to receive that honor. That wasn’t the first time Thomas was overlooked. It might very well be the last. 

Which brings us to last night. Thomas, fresh off delivering a eulogy for his younger sister and hours of dental surgery following an impromptu on-court extraction in Game 1, dropped 53 points on the Wizards, the second-highest total in Celtics playoff history, leading the Celtics to an overtime Game 2 win. He scored 29 in the fourth quarter and overtime alone, stared down the much larger Markieff Morris, outdueled John Wall (who put up 40 points and 13 assists), and did it all on what would have been his sister Chyna’s 23rd birthday. A 2-0 series lead is not insurmountable, of course, but it may as well be with the Celtics—they’re 34-0 all-time in series where they take the first two games.

Circumstances aside, Thomas has simply been doing in the playoffs what he’s done all season long. He was 7th in PER, second in Offensive Win Shares, as the Celtics posted the best record in the East. He missed six games, in which the Celtics went 2-4. In any other season Thomas would have been a serious MVP candidate. He averaged nearly 29 points per game, scored over 2,000 points, dropped 20 in the All-Star Game. He’s been on NBA Jam fire all year long. An All-Star last season as well, his leap this year should make him a lock for Most Improved Player.

In the playoffs, all he’s done is drop 33 on the Bulls the day after his sister was killed in a car crash, then lead the top-seeded Celtics back to a six-game series win after dropping the first two at home. He lost his 3-point shooting stroke through the final three games of the first round, going a combined 3-of-26, but rediscovered it in time for the second, shooting 5-of-11 in Game 1 and 5-of-12 in Game 2. His Celtics have won six straight playoff games now, and seem destined for a showdown with the Cavaliers that few expected after going down 0-2 to the eight-seeded Bulls. And he’s apparently made longtime fan Floyd Mayweather a lot of money.

Thomas’s emergence as a top-level postseason star comes at an interesting time in Celtics history as well. Paul Pierce, the 2008 Finals MVP, announced his retirement after 18 seasons. Soon enough, Pierce’s No. 34 will rise to the Boston Garden rafters. The thought this past summer was that Durant could become the next Celtic in line to receive that honor. That wasn’t the first time Thomas was overlooked. It might very well be the last.  

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