During Thursday’s press conference welcoming Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic to Cleveland, Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman shut down all questions about the hip injury expected to sideline the All-Star point guard for a chunk of the season.
“Again, I don’t want this to be the Isaiah Thomas hip press conference,” Altman said, interrupting back-to-back hip questions to open the interview. “So I’m just gonna with all due respect, shut down the hip questions. If we wanna talk about Isaiah, let’s talk about Isaiah the All-Star. Let’s talk about Isaiah, the guy that averaged 29 points a game last year. Let’s talk about him as a leader and what he’s going to bring to this franchise in terms of his performance on the floor when we get him back.
“So again, guys, we appreciate the questions, but this is not going to turn into the Isaiah Thomas hip press conference. We want to talk about what he’s going to add and contribute to this team.”
How did we get here?
The Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving to Boston for a package headlined by Thomas, a dynamic scoring point guard who set the Celtics’ franchise record for single-season points per game last year. But the trade was in danger of being vetoed when Cleveland’s medical team discovered Thomas’s hip injury — a right femoral-acetabular impingement with labral tear (yes, it’s as bad as it sounds) — that could sideline him up until or beyond February’s All-Star break.
Cleveland eventually conceded and accepted the trade — for a nominal fee of Miami’s 2020 second-round pick — knowing Thomas would be out for a good portion of the regular season.
Thomas opted not to get surgery in Boston, and Altman confirmed during the press conference that Cleveland’s plan, too, is non-surgical. So far, Thomas says he’s getting treatment and working out in the weight room. But that’s the extent of physical activity done by a player many feel needs to return to his All-Star status, and fast, if the Cavs hope to return to the NBA Finals this season.
In the interim, Altman said the Cavaliers will rely heavily on the two veteran point guards they brought in over the summer: Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon.
Rose averaged 18 points and 4.4 assists in a Knicks season filled with controversy from start to finish. He played 64 games with knick-knack injuries before a partially torn meniscus ended his year early. Rose also missed a game without telling his team ahead of time and missed preseason basketball handling a civil sexual assault case, for which he was found not liable.
The former NBA Most Valuable Player is expected to start at the point guard position until Thomas is healthy.
Isaiah Thomas: "Derrick Rose is really good and still really good, and I think his peers know that more than anything."— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) September 7, 2017
Calderon played 41 games last season — 17 with the Hawks, 24 with the Lakers — and averaged 3.4 points in one of the worst perimeter shooting seasons of his career.
It is unclear from the press conference how long Thomas will be sidelined from his hip injury. Others have had similar hip injuries, but those — including LaMarcus Aldridge and Wilson Chandler — underwent successful surgeries that sidelined them for almost a year.
Thomas and Cleveland won’t go under the knife. And as of Thursday, they have no idea how long this process will take.
“We’re not gonna rush this thing,” Altman said. “The goal is to bring him back at some point this year and be healthy and compete and get back to I.T. status. That’s our goal and our responsibility to him. But we’re just not going to address the specifics of the injury and not gonna comment on a timetable.”