It’s an unpopular opinion, but the Celtics should let star point-guard Isaiah Thomas walk away. In just his fifth year, Thomas’s rise to stardom has been almost unmatched in such a historical sports city. The fans love Thomas, along with his teammates, coaches, and front office loving him even more. However, the Boston Celtics are headed for a gigantic future, letting Thomas go will be just the beginning.
The Boston Celtics have arguably the brightest future out of any team in the entire NBA. Once the Eastern Conference Finals finishes, Boston will have been a top four team in the league and own the top pick in the draft. Not to mention, they will have a decent amount of cap space with a few roster spaces opening up. But the Celtics do have one problem that will push them out of contention from even making the finals. This could be the seventh straight year that LeBron James will be in the NBA Finals from the Eastern Conference. He has beaten everyone, including an NBA super team last year who has come back with an even stronger team this year which LeBron will try to contend with. Clearly, Boston will have to wait until the decline of LeBron James to make a serious run.
Therefore, the plan is completely set and ready for Danny Ainge to deliver. This offseason, the Celtics should make an attempt to shop Isaiah Thomas. Also, the Celtics should make a hard run at Gordon Hayward. If trading Thomas does not work out, draft Markelle Fultz, and attempt to play Fultz with Thomas. After the 2017-18 season, Thomas becomes a free agent. At that point, if Boston has no buyers on Thomas, they should let him go into the free agent market. Here, if we are looking at the best case scenario, the 2017-18 season has ended and Boston would have Gordon Hayward, Markelle Fultz, Al Horford, and potentially the #1 overall pick in the next draft. At this point, LeBron would be around thirty-four years old and hopefully for Boston, dwindling down.
However, I believe the best case scenario is if Boston does get a buyer for Thomas. If Boston was to put IT4 on the market between the offseason and the trade deadline, many teams should be interested. Making just under seven million per year, he would be one of the most underpaid stars in the entire league. Every single team would want a crack at IT4, but I think he would fit best in Utah or LAC. Utah has no star point guard, and is a team potentially a piece or two away from contending. LA might be losing their point guard this year and potentially another star player, making them a team with a lot of cap space to burn. Now, Boston would command at least one first round pick for such a cheap Thomas. If Boston signs Hayward, has a top five pick the next year along with their own pick, and a Utah/LAC pick, all of this with a potentially declining LeBron, Boston could return to championship level.
The single key to all of this playing out is the riddance of Isaiah Thomas. While being a great player and all-star, Thomas cannot be the best player on a championship team and Boston will benefit way too much from letting him go to keep him. If the Celtics want to rise to championship level in the near future, they must let IT4 walk.