Portland Trail Blazers v Cleveland Cavaliers

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If there’s an NBA player that has a lot to prove this season, it’s Isaiah Thomas.

Thomas recently inked a one-year, $2 million deal with the Denver Nuggets, but this was supposed to be the summer he signed a $150 million extension with the Boston Celtics. But, things didn’t go his way after he was upheld in a trade that sent him to the Cleveland Cavaliers and eventually the Los Angeles Lakers.

In fact, the Nuggets wasn’t his first pick and was he was even willing to return to TD Garden.

“S***, I’d have gone back,” Thomas told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “I don’t hold grudges.”

He even hit up Celtics GM Danny Ainge, saying, “[i]f the opportunity is there, I would just like to let you know that I’d love to come back.”

But before the talks could continue, the Celtics were more concerned with locking in a deal with restricted free-agent Marcus Smart. Thomas has had a rough season, but even he acknowledges it started in the 2016-18 season when he decided to play on an injured hip during the playoffs.

“If I didn’t play in the playoffs, I’d be OK,” Thomas said. “I’d be getting paid. I’d be who I am — who I was. But you couldn’t tell me in that moment in time — with everything I was going through — that, OK, I should just sit out. I don’t think Boston went about it the right way, as well.”

But more than anything, Thomas knows what he has to prove this season and he’s prepared to do it without the tutelage of Brad Stevens.

“This is just a battle that I have to fight that nobody else has to fight,” Thomas said. “Nobody. Nobody can say that they fight the same battle as me, especially with what I’ve done. The only thing that they’ve got now is, ‘Oh, he’s hurt his hip.’ That’s all they got on me now. Before it was, ‘Oh well, it’s Brad Stevens. It’s the system. Come on, check my career stats. They don’t lie.”

The two-time All-Star is confident that he can change his narrative within the league once again.

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