Isaiah Thomas: ‘I was a team player’ with the Phoenix Suns
PHOENIX, Ariz. — Only four days after he was shipped out of Phoenix, Isaiah Thomas found himself back in town, the orange and purple he proudly wore for a couple months replaced by the green and white of the Boston Celtics.
“It feels really weird,” said Thomas, dealt for a 2016 first-round draft pick and guard Marcus Thornton last week ahead of the NBA trade deadline.
Thomas played in 46 games with the Phoenix Suns this season, averaging 15.2 points and 3.7 assists while shooting 42.6 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from 3-point range.
“That’s the business of the NBA. It’s tough,” he said in the locker room before tipoff. “I was surprised and shocked by the move, but I can’t control it. All I can control is go out there and give it my all. I thought I would be here longer, but, I mean, they had other plans, so I wish them the best. In the end, I’m a Boston Celtic so that’s all I’m worried about.”
Looking to upgrade the point guard depth while also hedging their bets should Eric Bledsoe not re-sign, the Suns made Thomas an offseason priority. The 26-year-old was acquired from Sacramento in a sign-and-trade deal that netted him a four-year, $27 million contract.
Bledsoe did re-up, though. And with Goran Dragic already in the fold, the Suns now had three playmakers, an idea which may have looked good on paper but ultimately ruined the chemistry that had been so strong and celebrated the season before.
“For the most part, it worked. We were in playoff position,” Thomas said of the three-point guard system. “When we did play together, it was positive and it worked. It’s tough to do when you have three talented point guards that need the ball to be effective. It’s tough. But for the most part it worked, but they seen something different.
“I loved the city. I loved my teammates. The teammates were great. That’s all you can ask for. The front office was good to me. I had no complaints.”
Well, almost no complaints.
Thomas had made it known from the day he arrived that he wanted to start and wanted regular minutes, just as he had received in his three seasons with the Kings.
The Suns, however, viewed Thomas more in a supporting role, coming off the bench to maintain the attacking style of offense head coach Jeff Hornacek wanted to run.
Thomas’ failure to embrace that position is what essentially got him traded.
“It’s like the bad thing if somebody says they want to start and they don’t. I don’t get that,” said Thomas, who has yet to start in either of his first two games with the Celtics. “I was a team player. I didn’t complain to anybody. I went out there and did my job. The guy that complained, you seen it in the media (referring to Dragic). I didn’t say anything.”