Believe it or not, the Cleveland Cavaliers have won two straight games. Before you ask, yes, I’m very aware of how sad said statement really is.
However, after a miserable few weeks featuring putrid performances on the court and non-stop drama off it, it was nice to see the Cavs start a mini-winning streak Sunday night against the Detroit Pistons. It was sealed thanks to Cleveland holding its opponent to a mere 17 points in the fourth quarter.
Also worth noting is the Cavs’ best defensive quarter in what feels like forever occurred while Isaiah Thomas was on the bench.
Is this the biggest concern we’ve come across with the former Boston Celtic? Not necessarily. However, it’s one of many which have cropped up over the past few weeks.
As a result, it’s getting to the point where the Cavs need to give serious consideration to the idea of trading Thomas.
Naturally, such an idea sounds insane at first glance.
Receiving Thomas – a two-time All-Star who finished third in scoring last season – was what made parting with Kyrie Irving slightly easier to deal with. Additionally, he’s only played in ten games this season, which makes it difficult to truly evaluate what he can offer Cleveland on a nightly basis.
Despite all of this, there are still plenty of reasons why exploring the market for Thomas is the route the Cavs need to take.
For one, not only is Thomas slowing down Cleveland’s offense, he’s also been very clear about the fact he won’t be changing his approach despite this. His constantly chucking shots night in and night out has reportedly angered Cavs players, and rightfully so. When asked about this, Thomas wanted to know who exactly had a problem with his shooting before stating the team knew what it was getting when it traded for him.
Defensively, Cleveland’s point guard is an even bigger liability. Thomas has been frequently exposed by opposing teams, with highlights of players blowing by him becoming a common occurrence. The problem here is this isn’t a new issue, as he’s always struggled to hold his own on defense.
To be fair, the Cavs are trying to find ways to adjust the rotation to work around these problems. Coach Tyronn Lue has hinted he’ll continue cutting back on situations in which Thomas and LeBron James share the court to give each equal time running the offense.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t help as much when it comes to the problems Thomas is causing within the locker room.
As mentioned, players are already grumbling about his questionable shot selection. This came after the much-publicized team meeting in which Thomas called out Kevin Love for leaving a game early due to illness. Many also believe he was the one who leaked details of the meeting to the press to begin with.
So far, the only thing we’ve learned from Thomas’ time in Cleveland is how badly he’s fitting with the team. Players have problems with what he’s offering on the court and what he’s saying in the locker room. It certainly doesn’t lead anyone to believe he can help bring the Cavs a title this season.
If you’re still hesitant about the idea of parting with Thomas, I have a simple question.
What about this is going to change come summer?
By that, I mean is anything going to be different when it comes time for the Cavs to decide if they want to re-sign Thomas? He’s already stated he has no plans on changing his style, and has never been shy about voicing his opinion. It’s tough to believe he’ll hold his tongue if he comes across any future issues with teammates.
It all makes the scenario of Cleveland offering Thomas a max contract – something he’s very publicly clamoring for – very unlikely. As a result, why retain him if he’s not fitting in with the team and might end up elsewhere this summer?
Let’s face it, the Cavs have already lost the Irving trade. With this in mind, there’s still a chance to turn Thomas into something beneficial as opposed to losing him for nothing.
If Cleveland keeps Thomas past the deadline, only to watch him walk away this summer, all it will do is make the trade even more lopsided than it already appears.
Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook