It’s official. The Lakers have announced that Isaiah Thomas underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a hip injury on Thursday, and will be out for four months. The injury was sustained last season while Thomas was with the Boston Celtics, and after traveling to New York this week to further investigate the situation, Thomas chose to have the surgery to clean up the joint of all inflammatory debris. It’s rumored that Thomas has been playing with this particular injury for years.
Thomas, who did not make his season debut until January due to the hip injury after being traded from the Celtics to the Cleveland Cavaliers, was then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers at the trade deadline ending his 20107-2018 season just six weeks later. This latest development is just one more piece of bad news to add to Thomas’ string of horrible luck in recent years. Reminiscent of the tragic career of Derrick Rose, Thomas was so close to NBA glory before being tripped up at the finish line.
Just one year ago Thomas was one of the hottest guards in the league, leading the underdog Boston Celtics to incredible success with a team of no-names. Averaging 28.9 points, and 5.9 assists per game, Thomas took his team to 1st place in the Eastern Conference standings ahead of the Cavaliers by two games. The Celtics were slated to match-up against the Chicago Bulls in the first round, and it would prove a tricky series as the Bulls had shown an ability to match-up well against the Celtics winning 2 of the 4 games they played each other in the regular season.
Just one day before the series opener, Thomas’ little sister Chyna was tragically killed in a car accident that sent shock waves through the league.
It was thought that Thomas would not play in at least the first round of the playoffs, but he suited up anyway and led all scorers in the opening game with 33 points. The Celtics lost the first game of that series to Chicago, but as a team they rallied back and pushed past the first three rounds before ultimately succumbing to the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals 4-1. Such a tragic time for Thomas also proved to be one of the best moments of his career to date.
Fast-forward to the off-season, and Kyrie Irving was beginning to make his urge to move out from under James’ shadow known. After a very quiet couple of months, the Celtics and the Cavaliers announced a trade agreement that would send Thomas to Cleveland, and bring Irving to Boston to be their new leading man. In response to being traded Thomas stated, “Off the strength, after everything I went through (expletive), you’re not supposed to do that.”
The moment Isaiah Thomas found out he was no longer a Boston Celtic…
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 21, 2017
Thomas took the trade personally, and he made it his business to publicly declare his disdain for Celtics’ head of Basketball of Operations, Danny Ainge. Thomas’ frustration led him to be a little bitter, and even more frustrated that he had to go to an entirely new team to prove himself.
After arriving in Cleveland, the season got off to a bumpy start as Thomas struggled to recover from the hip injury that has plagued him for two seasons running. Cleveland went through a particularly bumpy patch when Kevin Love was criticized by his teammates at an unproductive team meeting, resulting in some embarrassing drama that had people very curious about the future of the Cavs’ organization. At the center of the drama? It’s hard to say exactly, but it’s rumored that Thomas was at ground zero after Love left the arena during a particularly terrible Cavs’ loss due to illness. Off-the-record reports from Love’s teammates state that Love went on to show Thomas up in a game following the incident as an intentional insult.
The Cavaliers let the drama subside a little and at the trade deadline, they completely overhauled their roster trading away 6 players that included Thomas being moved to the Lakers. Love has contributed a tremendous amount to the Cavaliers’ organization, and it makes sense that anyone trying to undermine the team’s success by being divisive would be dealt in short order. Ironically, just before being traded Thomas stated that he was, “…tired of being traded…”
Thomas’ season-ending surgery this week will probably also end his stint in Los Angeles as he becomes a free agent this summer. His level of talent and ferocity to compete is an appealing skill set for any organization looking to bring on a superstar to rebuild a team around.
I personally think the New York Knicks would do well to acquire Thomas to complement their core. Thomas’ small 5’9″ frame can prove to be a pitfall against some of the bigger guards in the league, but with Kristaps Porzingis and Enes Kanter under the rim, I don’t think the Knicks will need to worry much about size on the court. The Knicks need a leader like Thomas who can bring some charisma to the organization, and a new face for fans to cling to. Offloading Carmelo Anthony‘s salary leaves New York in prime position to pay good money for the recovering scorer and he could be just what the organization needs to become relevant in the East.
Time will tell how things develop, but for now Thomas will work to recuperate in La La Land before making a play at a comeback.