WALTHAM, Mass. — Boston Celtics All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas says he must wait until the swelling subsides in his injured right hip before determining his rehabilitation plan but noted that surgery is not currently the top option.
“[Surgery is] not the No. 1 option right now, but it could be once the swelling goes down,” Thomas said Friday while addressing reporters at Boston’s exit interviews. “They want to let [the swelling] die down a little bit then take another MRI once everything is down and it’s back to normal. We’ll go from there. Hopefully I don’t have to have surgery, but I know that is an option.”
Thomas couldn’t offer a timetable on how long he might be sidelined, regardless of the treatment, until more tests can be run. Even while waiting for the swelling to go down, he has been advised to remain patient.
He said the Celtics are committed to putting him on the best path to long-term health.
“I’ve gotta do what’s best for me in the long run, what’s best for my body. As [coach] Brad [Stevens] continues to say each and every day, it’s how you’re healthiest for the long run. Even [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] and those guys say that, so that says a lot about who they are as people.
“Most importantly, they care about my health, not just being a basketball player. So the Celtics are definitely behind me in this tough situation, but I mean, nobody’s going to feel sorry for me. I just have to keep going and figure out what I’ve gotta do to come back at the highest level possible.”
Thomas joked that he has informed the team’s medical staff and the specialist that he visited with earlier this week that the goal is to come back at an “MVP level” that he often displayed while earning All-NBA second-team honors this season.
“The plan is to play until 40, and they know that. All them doctors know that,” Thomas said. “So whatever they have to do to continue to play at, not just a normal level, at an MVP level, that’s what I’ve been on them doctors about and everybody on that training staff is.
“No matter what happens, let’s make sure I come back even better. And I will.”
Thomas said it won’t be easy to remain idle this summer.
“I usually take a few weeks off, and I’m at least playing at a YMCA or something,” Thomas said. “That’s gonna be the toughest thing, because I love hoop. So like any gym I try to be at, no matter who’s there playing, and that’s probably gonna be the toughest part about me being patient and having to let my body heal and understand what’s important for the future.”
Thomas suggested that doctors told him his hip has been different all his life.
“Like I have an extra bone or something, like doctor talk,” Thomas said. “I don’t understand what they’re saying.”
Thomas believes he originally injured his hip in mid-March and played through the lingering pain until it gave out in the playoffs. He said the team knew he would eventually be unable to play, but Celtics brass still had to force him to shut down during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“Eastern Conference finals, that’s the biggest stage I’ve ever been on. To not be able to go back out there in that second half and continue that series was painful,” said Thomas. “Like it hurt me. Danny was right there. I couldn’t get past him. They had multiple people come in and talk to me about what’s more important, but I definitely wasn’t trying to hear that at that point in time.”
Teammates praised Thomas for what he battled through to contribute to the Celtics’ playoff run.
“He’s been through a lot, toward the end of this season. I know it’s been hard on him, but we just appreciate him as teammates,” said Avery Bradley. “Me, individually, I really appreciate everything he’s brought to this team this year. He’s really had a special year. I don’t think this year could have gone to a better person and player, for everything that he’s been through and overcome.
“It’s just been impressive, and I’m sad that it ended the way it did. Looking back at the season, Isaiah was pretty impressive and I know that he’ll take care of himself, get ready for next year.”
Despite enjoying his most successful NBA season, Thomas admitted the playoffs were challenging. His younger sister Chyna died in a single-vehicle accident on the eve of Boston’s playoff opener, and then Thomas fought through a series of physical maladies, including his hip injury and dental damage.
Being forced off the floor put things in perspective for Thomas.
“It made me look back to see how fast everything can be taken away from me,” said Thomas. “It definitely humbles you. It’s been the best season of my career, but it’s also been, as you guys know, the toughest year of my life. So however you want to take that, that’s how the season’s been.”