That's all very true - he has definitely been improved on the Wizards. His FG% still leaves a lot to be desired, and his defence is what it is, but he's miles ahead of his Cleveland/LAL/Denver stints.
I don't think any of the guys on this year's team deserve to lose their jobs to make room for Thomas. This is kind of where I'm at right now too. His offensive efficiency has hit rock bottom since he left us. In the 84 (that's right... 84) games he's played since we traded him he's shot 39% from the field, 35% from three and 84% from the free throw line. These are between 3-5 percentage points lower than his career averages, and way down from 2016-2017.
I wish him well, but too much of his game has left him at this point.
Add to that the fact that his defence is worse than ever, and he's not really worth a roster spot on this team. He was playing alright for the Wiz, but still.
While this is true, he was obviously significantly hurt during the first year-plus after we traded him — that’s why he was traded. He’ll never get back to where he was, but he shot 41% from 3 this season on nearly 5 attempts a game.
I don’t think he’d be in the rotation, but I think it’s a lot more likely he could be occasionally useful in the playoffs than Javonte Green will be (who’s roster spot he’d take) or Carsen Edwards (who’s role he’d fill). Imagine the Celtics are struggling in a home game. IT comes in and hits two threes, and the energy of the building would skyrocket, shifting momentum and potentially propelling the team to victory. Javonte Green could hit those same threes, and they’d count the same in points, but it wouldn’t completely change the fan energy the way IT would.
He's definitely better on offence than Edwards is now, because Edwards simply can't seem to find his rhythm in short stints yet (makes sense considering his role at college). I kinda like Javonte, but he's not a good shooter. He is a fantastic athlete though, and I feel as if his dunks are definitely big energisers. My real qualm with the prospect of bringing IT back is whether or not he could buy into being the 10MPG guy that Carsen Edwards is.
Wanamaker probably doesn't lose many minutes to IT unless either IT is hot, Wanamaker is injured or the matchup is weirdly beneficial to IT. IF he could fall into that role comfortably (and stay healthy down the track) I'd welcome him back with open arms. Couple of big ifs though, for me, and this teams chemistry and morale is not something I want to mess with.
For someone like IT to become as successful as he has been, a 5-9 guy in a sport of giants, it needs a special type of mentality and belief. That belief and resolve, having something to prove and feeling like he was the best player on the court, that drove him to become an All Star, to make All-NBA teams and to be the centerpiece of a rebuilding team that ended up making the ECF, is the same type of mentality that I think will make it hard for him to fit in playing a lesser role with the Celtics.
Often we look at the physical attributes and characteristics or the stat lines without looking at the mental side of things. Will he be happy going back to being a 10 min a game player? What influence will he have on the locker room, given that some players (Brown and Smart) are still there when he was the alpha here but both have now clearly surpassed him? Certainly don't think he will destabilize the locker room overtly but it could happen through no intent of his own, even though the last couple of years have probably baked some humility and realism into him.
I feel like IT's best spot, his best fit, will be for a rebuilding, up and coming team which takes a chance on him to try and shine again, the way the Celtics did back then, where he can impart some knowledge and experience. Not a team trying to go for a championship. Because his impact on such a team will be minimal at best.
One thing's for sure...he's a case study on how an athlete can try to do the right thing by the team and the fans and end up doing the wrong thing for himself. Anytime we criticize an athlete for wanting to sit games out to make himself healthier, or to play through pain, or criticize them for trying to look after the best deal for themselves financially, or for leaving a team and being disloyal, he's basically the flip side of that argument. Busted his guts for the team, the fans, jeopardized his health and his reward was not the Brinks trunk but instead to get shipped out before he became a liability to the team he busted his guts for, derailing his career in the process . But it's business. We just have to remember it goes both ways - for teams and players. Business.