Three questions into the Cavaliers’ Thursday press conference, general manager Koby Altman put his fist down. After the niceties—introducing Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and Ante Zizic to the team by presenting the trio with fresh, Goodyear-sponsored jerseys—Altman was peppered with inquiries on the status of Thomas’s torn labrum in his right hip.
“I don’t want this to be the Isaiah Thomas hip press conference,” said Altman, in an effort to shut down the line of questioning. But the lingering injury, first suffered in March and then reaggravated in May, almost halted Cleveland’s trade with Boston. And after the Cavs sent Kyrie Irving to the Celtics, a timetable of when Isaiah, now the presumed starting point guard for the team, can return is kind of important.
Altman deflected that thought by bringing up the abilities of Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon, who were acquired this offseason and together averaged 52.5 games last year. The hip questions kept sneaking in, and eventually Altman gave a more descriptive answer, saying that though there is no current timeline for Thomas’s recovery, the six-year veteran is on a “non-surgical plan.” I.T., who admittedly has been through the media ringer with regard to his health issues the past two weeks, perked up and asked, “Y’all hear that? Y’all want to be doctors.”
Altman was much more willing to talk about Jae Crowder, gushing that he’s “a guy we’ve liked for some time,” and calling the skilled defender an “analytics marvel.” It’s been a trying few weeks for the forward; Crowder’s mother passed away on the evening he was traded to the Cavaliers. In Thursday’s press conference, he said he was just glad he was able to share the news with her when he was, because “five minutes later, she passed.”
Crowder said that before the trade, he “made it clear” that he was concerned with the Celtics franchise because “we had a lot of wing players stacking up,” referring to free-agent signing Gordon Hayward and draft selection Jayson Tatum. He wanted some direction, and got it: “They made it clear to me with the trade,” Crowder said.
The first call Crowder made after learning he was being moved was to Thomas. “Isaiah said, ‘Good thing I’m coming with you,’” Crowder recalled Thursday. Both are in Cleveland together now; when Thomas will join Crowder again on the court is still unknown.