As Isaiah Thomas sat on his porch at home in Tacoma, Wash., last Monday after watching the Thunder lose Game 7 of the Western Conference finals to the Warriors, he had an idea.
The Celtics point guard knows, like everyone else, that Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant will become a free agent this summer. He also knows, like everyone else, that adding Durant to a roster would have a seismic impact.
And in that moment on that porch, he thought it might be a good time to spice up the Durant-to-Boston narrative, no matter how unlikely a prospect it might be. So he grabbed his iPhone, opened Twitter, and posted Durant’s No. 35 next to a green shamrock. It was simple, but not especially subtle.
“I just wanted the world to know, that’s who I’m trying to get,” Thomas said.
Thomas has 357,000 followers on Twitter, and the response, unsurprisingly, swelled in an instant. After a couple of minutes, Thomas deleted the tweet. He said he was not instructed by anyone to do so; he just realized that his timing might not be appropriate.
“I just thought it was something nice to do for the world to see, “ Thomas said. “But I didn’t think it was going to be as big as it got.”
In a telephone interview with the Globe on Sunday from Shanghai, where Thomas is taking part in an NBA initiative to promote the game, Thomas made it clear that his courtship of Durant will not end with one vague and quickly deleted tweet. He said he acquired Durant’s phone number and intends to call him soon.
“I definitely want to give him some time,” Thomas said. “I know that was a tough series and a long season for him. I wouldn’t want anyone calling me up about the biggest decision of my life right after the season’s over. So I’ll probably give him some time and casually talk to him, and then go all-in.”
What would going “all-in” entail?
“I mean, do everything I can to get him to sign, somehow, someway, hopefully,” Thomas said.
Of course, the prospect of Durant actually joining Boston remains a bit of a long shot, particularly after Oklahoma City’s stirring playoff run in which it nearly dethroned the mighty Warriors. Still, Thomas intends to do all he can to lure Durant, and, for that matter, anyone else Boston pursues.
He said the Celtics’ decisions to extend the contracts of coach Brad Stevens and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge sent a “great message” to current and prospective players.
“I think it starts with knowing your foundation is set, and you’ve got to go from there,” Thomas said. “Hopefully, even with the free agents and things like that, players looking into coming to Boston see they’re committed to Danny and Brad and the future.”
Over Memorial Day weekend, Thomas hosted his third annual “Zeke-End” basketball tournament in Tacoma. His team included Celtics forward Jared Sullinger and guard Terry Rozier. Celtics guard Evan Turner attended as well, but did not play.
Sullinger will become a restricted free agent this summer and Turner is an unrestricted free agent, but Thomas said he mostly avoided that topic because he just wanted his friends to enjoy themselves. He said he does hope that they return to Boston.
“It’s a business and whatever both sides decide is going to happen,” Thomas said. “But I just wish those boys luck, because those are good friends.”
Thomas was the Celtics’ representative at the NBA Draft lottery last month, when Boston secured the No. 3 overall pick. He said he has no sense what Boston will do with the selection.
“I know they’re going to do their best to try to make the Celtics a better team for next year, so whether that’s to use the draft picks or trade them away and get players that can impact the game right now, I don’t know,” Thomas said. “But I do know those guys are going to do their job; I’m confident in that.”
Thomas already has had a busy summer, from the lottery to his basketball tournament to co-hosting “NBA Countdown” on ESPN during the Eastern Conference finals. He has been watching these playoffs intently, he said, paying close attention to how Stephen Curry and LeBron James stay so poised and under control at all times, regardless of the moment.
The playoffs have also intensified Thomas’s hunger, particularly after the Celtics lost in the first round for the second consecutive year.
“I need more,” Thomas said. “I want my team to not just make the NBA Finals but go further in the playoffs. It’s killing me that we had an early exit, but I’m using it as motivation to get back in the gym and work even harder. We know we can compete with the best, so we’ve got to do it.”
In China, Thomas has been taking part in basketball clinics and helping promote the NBA in a country that already has a deep passion for the sport. He spent three days in Shanghai and is scheduled to leave for Beijing on Monday.
At one event in Shanghai, Thomas and Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell drafted their own teams of teenagers — Thomas’s players wore Celtics jerseys and Russell’s donned Lakers attire — as the two NBA stars served as coaches. Russell’s team won by 3 points.
Thomas has been stunned by how many Chinese fans are familiar with him; he even saw some wearing his old Sacramento Kings jersey.
“It’s kind of surreal,” he said, “when you sit back and think about how you can impact lives from so far away.”