As anybody who remotely follows the NBA should know, Isaiah Thomas injured his hip a few months ago, during game two of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Thomas’s injury, a torn labrum, has been a major topic of discussion all summer long. Fans have eagerly awaited updates.
The discussion has peaked in wake of one the biggest transactions of the offseason. The Boston Celtics sent Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first round pick to the Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving.
Despite Thomas and Irving being nearly identical in terms of statistical output, the Celtics gave up additional assets to compensate for IT’s injury.
Even so, the Cavaliers have put the transaction on hold and have threatened to void the deal due to concerns about Thomas’s injury riddled hip, per Dan Feldman. Interestingly, Feldman wrote in a more recent report that the Cavaliers haven’t actually uncovered anything that might differ from what the Celtics conveyed to them during preliminary trade discussions.
So, if this is the case, then why is the deal being held up?
It’s entirely possible that even though the information regarding Thomas’s torn labrum remains the same and is known to the both teams, the Cavaliers may have uncovered a distinct yet connected complication.
According to an article by Dr. Jessica Flynn, Thomas’s labral tear was actually the result of an underlying condition known as femoroacetabular impingement. Simply put, Thomas has an extra bone, or a bone spur, growing along his femoral ball or his hip socket, which could, and likely does, facilitate the deterioration of his labrum.
In an interview with Chris Forsberg, Isaiah Thomas actually confirmed the presence of a structural irregularity in his hip.
"Like I have an extra bone or something, like doctor talk."
Under extreme pressure from constant cutting, jumping, and sprinting, the extra bones in IT’s hip pinch the labrum causing severe pain and weakening the cartilage to the point that it tears, which is what happened a few months prior.
The condition also correlates highly with early arthritis in the hip.
Now, while a labral tear can heal fairly well with rest and regular physiotherapy, IT’s underlying condition, the femoroacetabular impingement, does require surgery. The surgery is invasive and boasts a six to nine month recovery time at the very least.
This is just speculation so take what you will.
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However unlikely it is, it is possible that both teams focused on the tear as opposed to the bone spurs when executing the trade. When the Cavaliers were made aware of the bone spurs in Thomas’ hip, likely following the physical and everything that it entails, it’s possible they felt as though the Celtics were dealing them a damaged player that might not be able to hit the floor until the 2018-2019 season.
That being said, Thomas has played with this condition forever. He could choose to forgo surgery on his hip bones, let the tear heal, and simply play through the pain this season just as he’s done his entire life. Hypothetically speaking, a self-assessment of this nature might have contributed to the Celtics suggesting that Isaiah won’t need surgery.
At any rate, the controversy surrounding this deal is not a good look for either franchise.
Should it be true that the Celtics were unaware of Thomas’s hip condition, their medical staff would appear woefully inept to prospective players. If they willfully hid information regarding Thomas’s bone structure, their front office would appear exceptionally disloyal and nefarious.
Conversely, if the Cavaliers and Koby Altman simply overlooked Isaiah’s underlying hip complication, well, they’d appear borderline incompetent. If they knew about it all along and are simply biding time to try and gouge the Celtics, no team will engage in future trade talks with them.
And if this transaction does get voided, the results would be disastrous for both teams. Chemistry issues would just be the start.
Hopefully, this speculation is incorrect. Hopefully, the controversy surrounding this deal boils down to a simple mistake, and hopefully, Thomas’ injury isn’t as bad as suggested.