Isaiah Thomas wants you all to know he's definitely not 'salty about the trade'

Isaiah Thomas is an honest dude. Ask him a question, he responds in real talk. He wears his emotions on his sleeve, and he’ll answer any questions you might have about them, too. This is who he is. This, along with a heart that belies his 5-foot-9 frame, is what made him so likable on the Boston Celtics.

It’s also what’s gotten him into a bit of bind on the Cleveland Cavaliers.

His narrative is an easy one to write. The last pick in the 2011 draft rose to All-NBA prominence out of nowhere in Boston and laid his body on the line for the Celtics, only to be discarded for the first pick of that same draft in a trade that pitted Kyrie Irving opposite LeBron James in the Eastern Conference.

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Isaiah Thomas through his career
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Isaiah Thomas through his career
KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 24: Isaiah Thomas #2 of the Washington Huskies dribbles the ball downcourt against the Kansas Jayhawks during the CBE Classic game on November 24, 2008 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 20: Guard Isaiah Thomas #2 of the Washington Huskies reacts after a play during their 82-64 win over the New Mexico Lobos in the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at HP Pavilion on March 20, 2010 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA -JUNE 25: Isaiah Thomas #22 of the Sacramento Kings smiles for the camera following a press conference on June 25, 2011 at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 26: Isaiah Thomas #22 of the Sacramento Kings in action besides Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Power Balance Pavilion on December 26, 2011 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas (22) reacts to teammate Marcus Thornton (23) fouling Denver Nuggets shooting guard Arron Afflalo (6) at the end of regulation, which resulted in overtime, during the second half of the Nuggets' 119-116 win at the Pepsi Center on Monday, March 5, 2011. AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post (Photo By AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 15: (NEW YORK DAILY NEWS OUT) Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks tries to get by Isaiah Thomas #22 of the Sacramento Kings during a game on February 15, 2012 at the Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
The Sacramento Kings' Isaiah Thomas and San Antonio Spurs' Gary Neal, top, battle for a loose ball in the third quarter at Power Balance Arena in Sacramento, California, on Wedesday, March 28, 2012. San Antonio edged Sacramento, 117-112. (Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee/MCT via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 30: Isaiah Thomas #22 of the Sacramento Kings trying to listen in on the Boston Celtics on December 30, 2012 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 13: Isaiah Thomas #22 of the Sacramento Kings celebrate against the Chicago Bulls on March 13, 2013 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Isaiah Thomas #22 of the Sacramento Kings shoots a free throw against the Los Angeles Clippers at Sleep Train Arena on November 1, 2013 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Clippers won the game 110-101. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 12: Isaiah Thomas #22 of the Sacramento Kings is interviewed after the victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 12, 2014 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 29: Isaiah Thomas #3 of the Phoenix Suns poses for a photo during Media Day on September 29, 2014 at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 05: Isaiah Thomas #3 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game against the Memphis Grizzlies at US Airways Center on November 5, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Grizzlies defeated the Suns 102-91. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 23: Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Boston Celtics gives a thumbs up to fans before the start of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on February 23, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 1: Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Boston Celtics poses for a portrait before the game against the Golden state Warriors on March 1, 2015 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Steve Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 27: Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Boston Celtics takes a free throw against the Charlotte Hornets at the TD Garden on February 27, 2015 in Boston, Ma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 19: Matthew Dellavedova #8 of the Cleveland Cavaliers fights for a loose ball with Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Boston Celtics in the second half during Game One in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs 2015 at Quicken Loans Arena on April 19, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Celtics 113-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 13: Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Boston Celtics before the game against the Atlanta Hawks on November 13, 2015 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 09: Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Boston Celtics carries the ball against the Chicago Bulls during the first quarter at TD Garden on December 9, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
MEMPHIS, TN - JANUARY 10: Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Boston Celtics shoots the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies on January 10, 2016 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC -� JANUARY 16: Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Boston Celtics shoots a free throw during the game against the Washington Wizards on January 16, 2016 at Verizon Center in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - FEBRUARY 14: Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Eastern Conference dribbles the ball during the NBA All-Star Game as part of 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend on February 14, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 29: Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Boston Celtics takes a shot against the Utah Jazz after a timeout is called during the second quarter at TD Garden on February 29, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 11: Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Boston Celtics looks on during the fourth quarter at TD Garden on March 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Rockets defeat the Celtics 102-98. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 3: Jonas Jerebko #8 of the Boston Celtics celebrates with Isaiah Thomas #4 after a made basket against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on December 3, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Celtics defeated the 76ers 107-106. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 7: A pick by Boston Celtics center Al Horford (#42) on New Orleans Pelicans guard Langston Galloway (#10) frees up Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (#4) on this play during the fourth quarter. The New Orleans Pelicans played the Boston Celtics at TD Garden in Boston on Jan. 7, 2017. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 13: Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Boston Celtics reacts after hitting a three-point basket against the Dennis Schroder #17 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on January 13, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Feb 19, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Eastern Conference guard Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics (4) shoots the ball against Western Conference guard Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors (11) in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 16, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) stands alone during the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bulls 106-102 win over the Boston Celtics in game one of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 30: Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Boston Celtics reacts during the second quarter of Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Washington Wizards at TD Garden on April 30, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. Thomas lost his front tooth after colliding with Otto Porter Jr. #22. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
May 2, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas (4) reacts after scoring 53 points in defeating the Washington Wizards in game two of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas (3) poses for a portrait during media day at Cleveland Clinic Courts. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 27: Isaiah Thomas #3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on while there's a time out during an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on December 27, 2017 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 2: Isaiah Thomas #3 listens to LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Quicken Loans Arena on January 2, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 2: Isaiah Thomas #3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers yells to a teammate during the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Quicken Loans Arena on January 2, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Trail Blazers 127-110. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Now, on the verge of returning from the injury that cost him much of Boston’s conference finals series against Cleveland, with Irving operating as an MVP candidate for the Celtics and James needing a wingman to alleviate his own herculean effort, Thomas could tip the scales in the Cavs’ favor again.

Oh, and did we mention Boston hosts Cleveland on Jan. 3, right around the time Thomas has targeted for his debut? Needless to say, he’s going to be asked plenty about the Celtics at every opportunity.

He’s expressed his love for Boston, while at the same time holding a grudge against Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge for trading him. And on Christmas Day, in a conversation with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Thomas again detailed the complete range of emotions he felt after the deal.

“I was hurt,” he said in response to a question about Ainge citing his injury as one reason the Celtics traded him. (Ainge also answers questions with brutal honesty). “I was very hurt,” Thomas added, “because I gave them everything I had. I gave them too much, when I should’ve just sat out, especially with all the stuff I was going through. And when I say ‘going through,’ with my sister passing and things like that. You don’t do things like that, man, so that’s why it hurt. And it was a weird situation for him to say one of the reasons he traded me was because of my hip, because I hurt my hip on your time.”

Thomas said again he doesn’t plan to talk to Ainge anytime soon, and he doesn’t trust the Cavs, either. He then tripled down on his belief that he deserves a max contract this summer. This is the honesty and eternal optimism of Thomas that is so endearing. It’s also a little naive, since his “back up the Brinks truck” comments were just as big a factor in the Celtics’ willingness to trade him, inured or not.

Maybe on some level Thomas understands that playing until his hip gave out cost him quite a bit of money in 2018. This explains why, if he had to do it all over again, he said he wouldn’t have played for the C’s in last year’s playoffs — a run that began with the death of his sister Chyna and ended with the torn hip labrum. In between, Thomas and Boston forged a bond that could not be broken by a trade.

We know this is how Thomas feels now with the benefit of hindsight, because he told us as much, and his word is his bond. It’s still hard to imagine him sitting out the playoffs, even if he had known the risks of playing on an existing right femoral-acetabular impingement that he aggravated twice before finally being forced to shut his season down in May, because Thomas wanted nothing more than to lead the Celtics in the postseason. It’s also unclear whether doctors communicated those risks at all.

The Celtics parted ways with their strength and conditioning coach and team trainer this summer, but I’m guessing the doctors who still serve the organization would have a different take on this Thomas charge: “I do wish I had more information. It was never, ‘This can be something that can possibly shut you down for a while,’ because if that was the case, then I definitely wouldn’t have played.”

However macabre, it’s this that made Thomas’ story so compelling. He rose from nothing to become one of the NBA’s biggest bargains, played through tragedy and pain for the game he loved on a team he thought he loved, and when it came time to cash in on it all, he became expendable. Nothing more than a commodity. Rarely has the cold-hearted business of basketball been so blatantly obvious.

And now Thomas has to prove himself all over again in Cleveland.

Yet, now this Celtics-centric discussion surrounding Thomas four months after the trade has some in both Boston and Cleveland wondering why he is still harping on the C’s when he’s a Cavalier now. Well, as it turns out, Thomas has an answer for that, too, complete with all the requisite emotions:

“I will always love Boston,” Thomas added in a series of tweets on Tuesday. “That city and organization gave me a [sic] opportunity to be a superstar and I took it and ran with it. I am a Cleveland Cavalier now and I’m more than happy to be one. Just sit back and watch how special 2018 is going to be.”

And then his customary sign-off:

(He added the holidays part, because, well, Christmas.)

We understand Thomas’ frustration. He is, after all, just answering the questions he’s being asked, as usual. But those questions aren’t going to end any time soon, especially since the Cavs and Celtics could be headed for another conference finals showdown, and he will be a free agent this coming summer, at which point questions about his health, the trade and NBA loyalty are sure to rise again.

It’s also not just the media perpetuating the story. All season long, Thomas has been promoting “Book of Isaiah,” a web series published on The Players’ Tribune that details the trade and his recovery:

So, if he wants the discussion to end, Thomas might have to end it himself. If he stops answering the questions, they will cease at some point. Not that we want that, because his honesty is so refreshing.

For the record, it should be obvious to everyone that it’s possible to both be bitter about how a trade went down and excited about where you ended up in that trade. Isaiah Thomas is just keeping it real.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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