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#pounditSunday, June 16, 2024

Report: NBA players bothered by how Celtics treated Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas

Just when it appeared Isaiah Thomas had officially become the face of the Boston Celtics, an opportunity to acquire Kyrie Irving arose and Danny Ainge pounced on it. Apparently, the team’s willingness to deal a player who had come to mean so much to the franchise did not sit well with some around the NBA.

While discussing the Thomas-Irving deal on Thursday, ESPN’s Chris Haynes said players around the NBA were bothered by the Celtics trading Thomas after all he had been through in Boston.

“The fact of the matter is, players in the league, they felt like Isaiah Thomas was done wrong,” Haynes said, as transcribed by Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk. “When they asked Isaiah – management, ownership – asked him to go out and recruit such and such, he did it. He went out there, tried to improve the roster. He did everything that was asked of him to try to improve the Celtics. And then to, out of the blue, to be involved in a trade – and look, we’re not even talking basketball-wise. I think most people will say Kyrie probably, overall, is a better player. But it just rubbed players the wrong way.”

We hear constantly that pro sports are a business, and this is another example of that. The Celtics asked Thomas — their best player — to help them recruit free agents like Gordon Hayward before Irving even demanded a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. There was nothing that could have been done about that.

Thomas lost his sister during the playoffs earlier this year and continued to play his heart out for the Celtics. He deserves a ton of credit for that and for what he did on the court all season, but Ainge helped Thomas become a sure-fire max contract player when he acquired him from the Phoenix Suns. Now Thomas gets to play alongside LeBron James for the defending Eastern Conference champs. From a basketball standpoint, it could be much worse.

All that said, it’s hard to argue with what LeBron said earlier in the week about the criticism Thomas has received. The star point guard certainly doesn’t deserve to have his jersey burned, but you can’t blame the Celtics for trading him for Irving. They did what they thought was best for the team long-term, and Thomas didn’t exactly get shipped off to Brooklyn.

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