“Boston is going to be all love,” Thomas told Sports Illustrated. “I might not ever talk to Danny again. That might not happen. I’ll talk to everybody else. But what he did, knowing everything I went through, you don’t do that, bro. That’s not right. I’m not saying eff you. But every team in this situation comes out a year or two later and says, ‘We made a mistake.’ That’s what they’ll say, too.”
What Thomas went through was helping the Celtics make it to the Eastern Conference finals despite losing his sister to a car accident the day before the playoffs began, and then playing through a hip injury that ultimately sidelined him.
Despite his heroic effort, he was traded to the Cavs in the Kyrie Irving blockbuster.
Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, has cited the uncertainty about Thomas’ injury and his impending free agency next summer as two reasons for making the deal. But Thomas is still trying to understand it.
“None of it made any sense,” Thomas said, according to SI. “It still doesn’t make any sense. I’m still asking, ‘What the hell happened?’ It’s a trade you make in NBA2K. It’s not a trade you make in real life.”
Thomas helped recruit Gordon Hayward to Boston, thinking he’d be the piece the Celtics needed to get past the Cavs in the East. Now, Thomas will be standing in their way.
“Boston is going to be good,” Thomas predicted. “They’ve got really good players and a great coach. But it takes more than talent. They lost a lot of heart and soul.”
Thomas may not be able to play until the first of the year, however, as he rehabs the torn labrum in his hip. This is just another challenge that he has faced in his career, which started with doubters wondering if a 5-foot-9 point guard could really dominate in today’s NBA.
He put that to rest with back-to-back All-Star appearances, but now he’s starting over. The trade almost didn’t even go through because of concerns about his injury.
“[The Cavs] hadn’t even seen one of my MRIs, and they were acting like I was damaged, like this might ruin my career,” Thomas said told SI. “I’m not damaged, I’m just injured. But mentally it messed with me. You don’t know what the Celtics are saying to save their ass or what the Cavs are saying for leverage.”
Now that the deal is done, Thomas feels more comfortable with his new team. The Cavs aren’t trying to rush him. He knows they’ll be playing for June and he just needs to be at his best then.
But he still can’t help thinking what could have been in Boston after what he calls the “best year of my career” and the “worst year of my life.”
“I felt like I was building my own thing in Boston and we were close,” Thomas said to SI. “We were so close! Dang! That’s what hurts. We went from the lottery to the conference finals. We just got Hayward. We were right there.”