By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — There’s no question that the Cavaliers are getting an All-Star player from the Celtics in Isaiah Thomas, who can be one of the league’s most productive scorers – when he’s healthy.
Isaiah’s season ended prematurely during the 2017 NBA Playoffs due to the aggravation of a hip impingement suffered in March, forcing the point guard to miss the final three games of the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s unclear whether Isaiah will be ready for the start of the 2017-18 season for the Cavs, but it is clear that Cleveland does not have major concerns about his hip.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweeted on Tuesday night, however, that “significant concern” came from the Celtics about Isaiah’s hip injury. Isaiah will turn 29 years old during the 2017-18 season and a hip injury could seriously hinder a player like him, whose game is “built on speed”.
Adrian Wojnarowski later tweeted that the Cavs plan to “monitor” Isaiah’s progress closely and are “anxious” to give him a physical, but do not have any “short-term” concerns about his hip.
Ainge ostensibly disagrees with the source who told Goodman that the Celtics’ concerns were “significant”, telling reporters in a Tuesday conference call that Isaiah’s hip injury was only a minor factor in his decision to make the trade.
“Some,” said Ainge on how much of a role the injury played in the trade. “There’s gonna be probably a little bit of a delay for Isaiah as he starts the season this year, but I think that Isaiah should be fine and healthy as the season goes along.”
The Vertical’s Chris Mannix also addressed Isaiah’s hip when he joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Tuesday, describing head coach Brad Stevens’ sense of uncertainty.
“I think the hip is a legitimate concern for Isaiah,” Mannix said. “I had Brad [Stevens] on my podcast Monday, Brad said that the early September scan that Isaiah’s supposed to have is going to be what determines what his next move is. I really don’t know that surgery has been completely ruled out here. They’re hoping, they’re optimistic that the hip is not going to require it. But who knows what could happen in the next couple of weeks?”
It’s fair to note, though, that Irving has an extensive injury history of his own. He suffered a toe injury as a freshman at Duke that cost him a large portion of his only collegiate season. He missed three games with a concussion during his rookie year in 2011-12, and missed several more down the stretch with a nagging shoulder sprain.
The 2012-2013 league year was particularly painful for Irving, who broke his hand during a summer league practice in July. He later broke his left index finger in November and broke his jaw shortly after returning in December (although he played through the jaw injury by wearing a facial mask). He also hyperextended his knee in February 2013, which prompted fears that he would be shut down for the rest of the season, but he ended up continuing to play – only to sprain his left shoulder and miss three more weeks.
Irving had to wear the facial mask again after suffering a slight nasal fracture in November 2013. He missed three games in early 2014 due to a bruised knee, then missed eight more games in March with a biceps strain. His most recent major injury came in 2015 when he fractured his kneecap during the 2015 NBA Finals, which caused him to miss 24 games to start the 2015-16 season.
Irving avoided major injuries in 2016-17 and played 72 games, but his injury history is something that may also concern the Celtics. Still, the hip problems for the 28-year-old Isaiah will be worth watching as next season unfolds.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, CBS, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @Dolloff985 and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.