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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Isaiah Thomas Is Having A Bad Time

Image via YouTube
Image via YouTube

Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that at least one Cavs player “challenged the legitimacy” of an illness that kept Kevin Love from sticking around through the end of a game last Saturday, and then kept him out of practice on Sunday. Eventually that anonymous player was identified as Isaiah Thomas, who is having a very, very bad time as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Through nine games of burn, Thomas is averaging 15 points on putrid 50 percent True Shooting, while using up 30 percent of Cavs possessions during his minutes. That offensive efficiency is by far the lowest of Thomas’s career, and, coupled with his disastrous 117 defensive rating, helps explains why the Cavs are a fatal minus-15.5 points per 100 possessions when Thomas is on the floor. Thomas is working his way back from a significant injury, and he’s playing alongside teammates with awful, glaring defensive deficiencies of their own—the question is less whether Thomas will eventually return to the form that made him a deadly offensive weapon in Boston, and more whether he can do it in time to make a positive impact on this deeply flawed Cavs team. There’s still plenty of time, but the early signs are not encouraging.

In the meantime, he’s having to deal with the doubt and angst and conflict that tend to swirl around a team mired in a slump. He’s been linked to dissatisfaction with Love’s illness, and to dissatisfaction with LeBron’s offensive stewardship. Anonymous teammates have been described as unhappy with Thomas’s shot selection. He’s been targeted as accountable for Cleveland’s swooning defense. This is a shitty time. Forget about the exact flavor of a team meeting being blown out of proportion—split second transfers of the ball from one teammate to another are being parsed for meaning:


Anyway, here comes video of Thomas enduring a presser after practice Saturday, during which he was asked, yes, about how Kevin Love gave him the ball. This poor guy:

The frustration is palpable from the first answer (to a question about Thomas leaving the locker room without talking to the press), and through discussions of that fateful team meeting, but the real fireworks launch when Isaiah is asked about teammates complaining about his shot selection. If you turned the sound off and just watched the video, you would still know roughly when the question was asked (it’s about the 9:00 mark): Isaiah’s demeanor changes, from that of a man who is frustrated to that of a man who is pissed:

I mean, if they’re worried about my shot selection, they must not’ve seen me play the last few years. Like, that’s all I can say about that. If somebody’s worried about that, what did you trade me here for? To not shoot? To not find my rhythm? To not be Isaiah Thomas? I can’t be anybody else. So, whoever’s saying that, I mean, I don’t know what I’m here for if I’m not here to score the ball and make plays. After being off seven months.

What Thomas was kind enough to not say is he was brought in to replace Kyrie Irving, who has never had what could be considered a particularly responsible shot selection, and was never anything but a bad defensive player. If there are Cavs players who are complaining about Isaiah’s shot selection, probably they should splash some cold water on their faces and chill.

I don’t especially give a rat’s ass about the Cavs, except that the best basketball player in the world plays for them, and they once beat the dreaded Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. But I have had enough of them moping and sucking and hating each other. I am ready for Isaiah to drop 40 on the Pistons Sunday afternoon, and for the Cavs to rip off seven straight, and for this shit to end. Get it together, Cavs!

Staff Writer, Deadspin

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