Cleveland Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas turned heads when he said "I don't think the Boston Celtics got better by making this trade" in a Wednesday article for the Players' Tribune, and his former head coach responded.
The Celtics on CSN shared Boston coach Brad Stevens' response, where he praised Thomas' ability to capture the emotional cost of the trade as well as his skills on the court and the time they had to work together:
Thomas highlighted how sudden the trade was and the discrepancies between the way players are viewed "the handful of times" they have control compared to the ease with which many are moved by front offices in a striking paragraph:
"But that’s what I think my trade can show people. I want them to see how my getting traded—just like that, without any warning—by the franchise that I scratched and clawed for, and bled for, and put my everything on the line for? That’s why people need to fix their perspective. It’s like, man—with a few exceptions, unless we’re free agents, 99 times out of 100, it’s the owners with the power. So when players are getting moved left and right, and having their lives changed without any say-so, and it’s no big deal … but then the handful of times it flips, and the player has control … then it’s some scandal? Just being honest, but—to me, that says a lot about where we are as a league, and even as a society. And it says a lot about how far we still have to go."
It is particularly notable because Thomas is set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and theoretically will have control over his destination. Chris Haynes of ESPN.com reported the guard is going through a change in representation before his 2018 free agency.
The two-time All-Star is coming off a career season for which he earned All-NBA (second team) honors for the first time. He averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists per game for the Celtics while shooting 37.9 percent from three-point range.
Despite his recent accolades, health is a question after a hip injury cut his Eastern Conference Finals short. If he recovers and is healthy heading into the playoffs, the three-time defending Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers figure to challenge for a title once again with Thomas and LeBron James leading the way.