The Cleveland Cavaliers are concerned about the health of point guard Isaiah Thomas’ right hip, two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports, jeopardizing the blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics that sent Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and a first-round pick to the Cavaliers for point guard Kyrie Irving.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.
Thomas took a physical in Cleveland on Friday, and the results have given the Cavs pause on proceeding with the deal. They are doing a deep and thorough review, which they expected to do given the nature of Thomas’ injury.
He sustained a torn hip labrum March 15 against the Minnesota Timberwolves and re-aggravated it during Game 6 of the conference semifinals against the Washington Wizards.
In a trade, all players must pass a physical. If a player doesn’t, the trade can be voided.
The Cavs could back out of the deal, leaving both teams in a predicament. The Cavs’ front-office, led by new general manager Koby Altman, worked hard over the summer to accommodate Irving’s wish for a trade.
Cleveland found a deal that landed it an All-Star point guard, a three-and-D wing, a promising big man and Brooklyn’s first-round pick in the 2018 draft.
Voiding the trade would put the Cavs back at square one just four weeks before the start of training camp. Though it’s possible Cleveland backs out of the trade, a more likely scenario is a renegotiation of the deal with Boston sweetening the pot with an additional player or draft pick.
Cleveland must have had some idea that Thomas wasn’t 100%, but the physical may have revealed bigger issues.
Thomas and the Celtics decided against surgery following the season, and on the night of the trade, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said, “There’s going to be probably a little bit of a delay for Isaiah as he starts the season this year, but – um – I think that Isaiah should be fine and healthy as the season goes along.”
At the time of the trade early in the week, the Cavs were excited with the first-round pick. In a statement on Tuesday, Altman said the Cavs “felt that the unprotected first-round pick in the deal was very important for us and our future as well.”
Given their excitement at acquiring a first-round pick that should fall in the top 10 and their ability to trade Irving and avoid training camp issues, it’s difficult seeing Cleveland nixing the trade.