Isaiah Thomas Feels ‘Real Love’ From Celtics Amid G-League Run

Isaiah Thomas hasn’t called it quits amid a difficult mountain climb toward an NBA return and throughout a two-year-long hiatus in search of the next opportunity, what remained consistent was support from the Boston Celtics.

Thomas recently landed a deal with the Salt Lake City Stars, the G-League affiliate of the Utah Jazz. So far, it’s gone well with Thomas scoring 34 points on 8-of-20 shooting with seven rebounds and five assists on Tuesday, in front of Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla and several other Boston staffers.

“It’s real love. You know, that Boston love is real,” Thomas told reporters, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “No matter what happened in the past, all those guys communicate with me still. I’m always locked in on Celtics games. That was big part of my life. That was a really important, important time in my life as well. So it’s always going to be love for everybody that’s in that organization and was a helping hand to me and my family.”

During the height of his career, Thomas emerged as the leader of a Celtics team working its way from the sewer of its post-Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen chapter, back to competitive basketball. Thomas became a two-time All-Star and recorded a handful of memorable performances, including a 53-point masterpiece against the Washington Wizards in the 2017 playoffs.

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That run ended when then-Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who acquired Thomas from the Phoenix Suns in 2015, traded Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving in 2018. That same summer, Boston drafted Jayson Tatum and signed Gordon Hayward, recruiting a stronger cast of talent than Thomas ever played with throughout three seasons with the Celtics.

Now head-honcho of Utah’s front office, Ainge gave his old franchise star another shot at flipping the script.

“We chopped it up a few times,” Thomas revealed, per Washburn. “Danny helped make this day happen. He connected the dots.”

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Thomas has made it clear that he’s not seeking a starter’s role, but a chance to make some impact on the sidelines for an NBA roster. Having experienced the pressure of being leaned on as the guy, rising to the occasion in the playoffs and playing around youngsters like rookie Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier and second-year Marcus Smart, Thomas has credibility.

Before signing with the Stars, Thomas made an inadvertent pitch to the Celtics, offering a willingness not to play but instead provide a veteran presence to Boston’s current championship-contending roster.

Perhaps Ainge will consider promoting Thomas at some point as the Jazz enter a critical offseason with several avenues, including a youth movement, on the table for the organization moving forward. But for now, Thomas will continue to try to rekindle his dominant form with 30-point performances that once rose the undersized guard to stardom in Boston.

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