As a basketball player, Isaiah Thomas has been doubted for the majority of his life.
Since he’s just 5’9” and has always been undersized, he flew under the radar at the University of Washington, where he excelled on the court. Despite clearly possessing the skills to be a first-round pick in 2011, he was taken with the 60th and final selection by the Sacramento Kings.
Working his way to more playing time, Thomas put up 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per contest in 2013-2014 for the Kings, but was surprisingly traded away to the Phoenix Suns for Alex Oriakhi (the 57th pick in the 2013 draft) and a $7 million trade exception.
Inexplicably, the Suns let go of him part way though the next season when the Boston Celtics came calling in part of a three-way deal that netted Phoenix Marcus Thornton and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2016 first-round pick.
It was Thomas’ third team in two seasons and as he proved this season, he’s doing everything to make sure that the Kings and Suns will forever regret sending him away. Additionally, with everything he says and does, it seems as though Thomas foresees himself as a member of the Celtics for the long-term.
Averaging 28.9 points and 5.9 assists per contest this season, Thomas earned an All-Star selection and Second-Team All-NBA honors. With one more year on his current team-friendly deal that carried over from when he played for Sacramento, Thomas will likely receive a max deal in what is a very inflated free agent market.
Eligible to receive an extension this offseason, Thomas decided to go on the record in a very selfless way to explain why he’d be perfectly fine with the Celtics pursuing the best available free agent and thus putting his extension on hold until next summer.
Oddly enough, his $6.3 million salary for the 2017-2018 season will be less than what Boston will pay the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
"We need the best possible player that's gonna help us win, and I'm with that," Thomas told reporters on Friday. "Anything Danny and this organization need me to do to help bring even more talent to this city, I'm all for that. I want to win a championship and being so close to getting to the Finals, that makes you want it that much more.”
Refreshingly for the organization, Thomas seems like he will be patient when it comes to receiving his extension offer.
"Whatever happens, happens. I've proved myself. The world knows what I bring to the table and I can't do anything to control anything else. So whatever happens this summer with contracts, it happens. If not, then we'll wait until next summer and then we'll see where we go,” he said.
He added, "[An extension] means more money? Yeah, I would love that. But if it don't happen, I'm the last person to be bothered by that. I know everything happens for a reason so, when my time comes, I know it will come and God will bless me.”
The Celtics will have enough cap room this summer to sign a big-name free agent. There are a number of possibilities in play including both trades and free agency, but if Boston wants to close the clear gap between their roster and Cleveland’s, they will have the opportunity to. Gordon Hayward, Paul George and Jimmy Butler were just a few of the All-Stars that have been linked to the Celtics around since before this season's trade deadline.
Whatever happens, it appears as though Boston has a committed and loyal superstar in Thomas, who is appreciative of the opportunity that he’s been given. “Boston’s changed my career, changed my life. I would love to be here long term and win championships here,” he said.
That’s exactly what Celtics fans want to hear and it’s a very realistic possibility.