Based on recent news regarding Isaiah Thomas’ hip injury, it appears as though he will miss a sizable portion of the upcoming regular season.
As the prized centerpiece for Cleveland in the Kyrie Irving trade, Thomas was originally expected to continue where he left off last season, as one of the most dynamic offensive players in the entire NBA. After all, despite his diminutive 5’9” stature, IT averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists in 33.8 minutes per game for Boston last season in what was a dominant campaign.
Therefore, losing out on his production might end up costing Cleveland until he returns and despite the return of Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick and a 2020 second-rounder, it could certainly leave a lasting impression on LeBron James, who could very realistically decide to leave Cleveland for the second time next summer.
At this point in his career, LeBron’s legacy is defined by rings, and as Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer recently reported, James, along with head coach Tyronn Lue, are not happy about the possibility that Thomas might not be healthy for a while.
“One league source with an understanding of Cleveland’s situation told me that as news spread throughout the organization that Thomas could miss time deep into the upcoming season, James and Lue cooled on the deal. According to the same source, both the Cavs’ franchise player and their head coach were apparently told by upper management that Thomas and Crowder were being brought in to help the team compete with the Warriors now,” O’Connor wrote.
It certainly doesn’t seem like the Cavs will be able to compete with Golden State, at least to start the season. As seen in the past, however, if they gain health and are at full-strength in the playoffs when it really matters, anything can happen.
Since Jason Floyd of The Athletic recently reported that LeBron’s possible departure, not Thomas’ health, was the main focus of the Irving trade, Cleveland’s goal might not have actually been to get better in the short-term, but instead could have been to position the team for the future.
It will be fascinating to see what the Cavaliers look like to start the 2018-2019 campaign after what should be an electrifying free agency period next summer. While Cleveland might not be able to contend with Golden State this season, they’d be set up well for a quick rebuild if LeBron becomes a villain yet again.