But did he give too much?
In his introductory press conference Tuesday after signing with the Washington Wizards, Thomas suggested he was a sacrificial lamb for other NBA stars when he played through a hip injury in Boston during the 2017 playoffs.
"I took a bullet," Thomas said, via NBC Sports Washington. "That's in terms of max contracts, all that. People not playing to get their max deals. I took a bullet for sure."
Thomas' heroics in the spring of 2017 helped lift the Celtics past those same Wizards into the Eastern Conference Finals. But they also derailed his career, exacerbating a hip injury (that later would require surgery) just as he entered free agency.
Thomas, who is on his fourth team in three years and never got his max deal, believes his situation was a cautionary tale for stars like Kawhi Leonard, who shut himself down in 2017-18 with the San Antonio Spurs rather than play through injury.
"I feel like, especially with the Kawhi Leonard thing, he sat out for a reason," Thomas added. "He seen my situation, for sure he seen it. The list goes on. Load management I think is smart for players."
That plan certainly worked for Leonard, who won NBA Finals MVP with the Toronto Raptors this past season after missing 22 regular season games due to rest and just landed a maximum contract with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Would the Celtics have "backed up the Brinks trick" for Thomas in the summer of 2017 had he shut it down before the playoffs? Who knows? But star players like Leonard certainly can point to Thomas while advocating for "load management" over "win at all costs."
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Why Isaiah Thomas believes he 'took a bullet' playing hurt for Celtics originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston