Published: Wed, May 24, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Celtics Almost Traded Isaiah Thomas For A Lottery Pick

Celtics Almost Traded Isaiah Thomas For A Lottery Pick

Maybe the best joke Friday night was "the Boston Celtics are the first team in NBA history to tank AFTER winning the NBA Draft Lottery".

Isaiah Thomas' unforgettable 2016-17 season with the Boston Celtics nearly didn't happen.

As teammates recounted after yesterday's practice, they celebrated Sunday night's win against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals by connecting with the injured guard via FaceTime. Leonard actually is San Antonio's best player and one of the best players in the league.

Replacing him in the starting lineup was Smart, who was supposed to deliver a better brand of team defense filling in for the 5-foot-9 Thomas. But he's a defensive liability. Thomas is an excellent passer, but he still dominates possession when he's on the floor - especially in the fourth quarter when many of Boston's offensive sets consist of everyone clearing out and the dynamic guard making a play in isolation. "If you get caught up in listening to people and reminiscing about what happened, you will lose before you even step on the floor, and our guys didn't allow that". It was about opportunity, an unspoken rallying cry that has galvanized this Celtics team through what has been a season in which they defied the odds and naysayers time and time again.

Didn't seem to matter in the first half, when Cleveland scored 66 points and made 14 of 22 3-point shots.

Smart started in Thomas' place and engineered the C's second-half comeback from a 21-point deficit. That will help you win a ton of games in the regular season, enough perhaps to be the #1 seed in the eastern conference, but his offense alone will not win them enough games in the playoffs. The Thunder, in limited minutes, was helpless without Russell Westbrook.

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While Boston doesn't necessarily need guards, it might not be wise to pass on such talented players like Fultz and Ball. But did it? Relying on more all-around players sometimes pays off. According to National Basketball Association draft.net, the projected no. 1 pick for the Boston Celtics is Markelle Fultz of Washington.

Without that luxury, head coach Brad Stevens turned to more advanced sets with much more off-ball movement - and found considerable success against a Cavs defense used to loading up on Thomas.

He would be prime trade bait.

The Celtics should be calling the Bulls to see what it's going to take to pry Jimmy Butler away.

One game is no measure on how the Celtics would play without Thomas. After that game two DESTRUCTION at the hands of the Cavaliers, at home, which social media had a ton of fun with, you know that their elimination is inevitable.

Ainge is known for being very active in trade discussions, and the Celtics had plenty of reason to make a deal, but the feeling was that they wanted to make a win-now move, not trade established pieces for another pick.

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