BOSTON -- Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
The clock is winding down for the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers to work out what, if any, additional compensation will be included in order for the already agreed-upon trade to be official complete.
Boston and Cleveland have agreed to a trade that will send Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the 2018 unprotected Brooklyn first-round pick, to the Cavs in exchange for Kyrie Irving.
MORE ON THE TRADE
- Blakely: Falllout is too great for deal not to get done
- Tanguay: I'd throw in Lakers pick to get it done
- Isaiah Thomas: 'I'm not damaged . . . I'll be back
The hold-up at this point is centered around Thomas’ injured hip, which forced him to miss the last three games of the Eastern Conference finals against Cleveland last spring.
Thomas met with Cleveland’s doctors on Saturday, who raised some concerns that the 5-foot-9 guard’s return to the floor might not be as soon as the team was hoping. Because of that, additional compensation might be needed for the deal to be completed.
A league source confirmed to CSNNE.com that the two teams did have discussions on Tuesday about possible compensation, but nothing was agreed upon.
Prior to the trade, Thomas was scheduled to have a hip scan in early September to see where he was at in terms of his recovery, and get a better sense as to how soon he might return to the floor.
In an interview with ESPN, Thomas shed some light on where he stands with the hip injury.
“I haven’t had one doctor tell me that this injury is going to hurt my career,” Thomas said. “Surgery was not the best option in this case. I aggravated it in March when [Minnesota’s] Karl Anthony-Towns fell on me. I kept playing on it, and making it worse . . . until I couldn’t play anymore last season.”
When the two teams first began discussing a possible trade, the Cavs had interest in Jayson Tatum being included in the deal. The Celtics made it clear that was not going to happen.
Cleveland is not pursuing Boston’s young talent like Tatum and Jaylen Brown anymore, but is reportedly open to taking a late first-round pick or possibly a couple second rounders to complete the deal.
It’s unclear if the Celtics will be willing to do that.
While it’s true Boston has plenty of assets to make that happen and not be adversely affected going forward, Boston included the unprotected 2018 Brooklyn pick to help soften the blow of Thomas potentially not being ready at the start of the season -- something the Celtics told the Cavs prior to the trade being completed and something that Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, reiterated to reporters shortly after Boston and Cleveland had the call with the league office to make the trade official pending physicals.
For Thomas, the timing or the message being sent by the Cavs in making his hip a major issue, could not be worst. The 28-year-old will be a free agent this summer and, if healthy, is poised to be among the top free agents available and very much in line for a multiyear deal that will likely be in the nine-figure range.
But this hip injury, or at least so much talk about it and its potential impact on him going forward, has raised the kind of questions no free agent wants to be talking about on the eve of what should be his biggest payday ever.
Thomas makes it clear that all the talk and concerns about his hip are just that: Talk.
“There’s never been an indication that I wouldn’t be back,” he told ESPN. “And there’s never been an indication that this is something messing up my career. 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.”