LOS ANGELES — Isaiah Thomas loves being a Celtic. He loves that he is now the face of the franchise, he loves the rich tradition, and he loves the rabid fan base.
Now that that disclaimer is out of the way, it is also true that he always wanted to be a Los Angeles Laker, and that dream lingered long after he entered the NBA.
Thomas’s father’s interest in the Lakers has been well-documented, and he passed that down to his son at a young age. Then in 2011, Thomas worked out for the Lakers prior to the draft, and he thought the team would use one of its four second-round picks on him, but it did not. Then when he was a free agent in 2014, he had preliminary talks with the Lakers, but the team was reluctant to make a move as it waited to see if it could lure Carmelo Anthony to Los Angeles. So Thomas signed with the Suns.
All along, Thomas’s fascination with Los Angeles endured, to the point where he said he desperately wanted to join the franchise somehow.
“I used to, before I got on the Celtics,” Thomas said on Friday before the Celtics’ 115-95 victory. “But yeah, for sure.”
Thomas insists that those dreams subsided as he established himself as a two-time All-Star with the Celtics, a franchise with quite a bit of history of its own. Still, the allure of the Lakers could be worth monitoring because Thomas is in line to become a free agent after next season — if the Celtics do not sign him to an extension this summer.
Even if Los Angeles never lands Thomas, the point guard believes the cupboard will not be bare here for long with Magic Johnson now the team’s president of basketball operations.
“Some superstar’s going to come here,” Thomas said. “Nah, but it’s good. Magic Johnson is arguably the best Laker ever. So to have him the head of all that and making decisions is a step in the right direction. Everybody respects him. I mean, he Lakers are not going to be, I guess, what they are now forever. He’ll bring some people there.”
Yabusele day to day
Celtics draft pick Guerschon Yabusele suffered a left ankle injury in the second quarter of the Shanghai Sharks’ Chinese Basketball Association playoff game Friday. The Sharks’ strength coach, James Scott, said in an e-mail it is a Grade 1 sprain and is not considered serious.
Scott said that Yabusele is sore, but can walk on his own and has experienced minimal swelling. He is considered day to day.
Yabusele, who was chosen by the Celtics with the 16th overall pick of last June’s draft, rolled the ankle after going up to block a shot with seven minutes left in the second quarter the Sharks’ Game 4 loss to Shenzen in the CBA quarterfinals.
Yabusele limped upcourt for one play before committing a foul and limping to the bench. He did not return to the game. The deciding Game 5 of the Sharks’ series is scheduled for Sunday, and it is unclear if Yabusele will return by then.
“Although we’re in the playoffs, we won’t put him back on the court until he is 100 percent,” Scott said in the e-mail. “Once he’s able to move more, we will re-test him and compare that to his baseline numbers. Guerschon’s health is and has always been my top priority this season.”
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has said Yabusele might join the D-League’s Maine Red Claws after the Sharks’ season ends, but he said health and fatigue would factor into the decision.
Increase for Bradley
The Celtics will continue to gradually increase Avery Bradley’s playing time as he works his way back after missing 22 games because of a strained Achilles’ tendon. Bradley played 15 minutes against the Hawks on Monday and 22 minutes against the Cavaliers on Wednesday. He played 23:37, scoring 15 points along the way Friday.
Prior to his injury, Bradley was averaging 34.8 minutes per game.