If Isaiah Thomas’s hip recovery — from injuries including a labrum tear and bone bruise — does not proceed smoothly, ESPN’s Zach Lowe reports “there is at least a slight chance” the all-star guard could miss most of the 2017-18 NBA season.
That is the point of much deliberation for Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman, who has until the end of the day to approve or deny a blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston for Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-round pick.
IT4 suffered a right femoral-acetabular impingement with labral tear — which, in layman’s terms, is not good — in Boston’s second-round series against the Wizards, then aggravated that injury against the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Warriors fans may recall Kevon Looney suffered the same injury and was sidelined four-to-six months after going under the knife.
In fact, while hip injuries aren’t as common as, say, a meniscus or an ACL/MCL tear, there have been a few in recent memory.
Martell Webster’s injury-riddled NBA career virtually ended with a partial hip labrum tear requiring surgery in 2015; he was 28 years old. Wilson Chandler needed both right and left hip labrum repair that cost him virtually the entire 2011-12 and 2015-16 seasons. And Gerald Henderson, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jordan Hill, and Jonny Flynn have each missed extended time due to hip surgery.
But Thomas did not have surgery on the hip that’s held up the blockbuster Irving trade to the Celtics.
He and Boston chose a slower rehabilitation process than surgery, according to The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, and Thomas was already back shooting jump shots and doing both on- and off-court cardio training in late July.
That doesn’t mean Thomas will be dressed for Cleveland’s season opener. It just means that the injury, at least for Thomas’s camp, isn’t as serious as it’s been made to be.
"There's never been an indication that I wouldn't be back, and there's never been an indication that this is something messing up my career," Thomas said, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. "Maybe I am not going to be back as soon this season as everyone wants me to be, but I'm going to be back, and I'm going to be the same player again. No doctor has told me anything different than that.”
Even without Thomas for some time, Cleveland has enough firepower reign supreme in the East.
The Cavaliers still deploy the world’s best basketball player in LeBron James, who serves as the team’s chief playmaker. They signed Derrick Rose, albeit past his prime, who can still score in spots when healthy. And with Crowder added to the mix, Cleveland can switch defensively across multiple position.
So even though Thomas may be out a few games, the Celtics still have the best offer on the table for Cleveland.