INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman didn’t want to reveal a time frame on Isaiah Thomas’ return from a hip injury, and he didn’t want Thomas to reveal it, either.
Other than that, the introductory press conference centered on Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic was full of positive answers and loads of confidence.
Well, unless you include the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round draft pick also obtained in the Kyrie Irving trade with Boston. None of the media members in attendance asked about it. (Read our talk with Altman about it here.)
Instead, the focus was on how this new group of Cavs fits in with the old guard — namely, LeBron James, Kevin Love and the rest of the names you know.
And if that’s the major question, most Cavs fans should like the answer. After all, Thomas said James texted Thomas and Crowder after the deal, and that all parties were excited.
“It’s a match made in heaven,” Thomas said.
One of the first keys to success is to have already experienced success. The Cavs’ holdovers and these newcomers can make that claim.
Remember, the Celtics finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference last season, and Thomas was their leading scorer. Remember, the Cavs walloped the Celtics in the conference finals, with James again as their leading man.
So it appears the Cavs already had it all.
Or did they?
“We added something they didn’t have,” Thomas said. “That’s toughness, grit.”
Thomas speaks the truth in the eyes of many observers around the league. The Cavs no longer had an Anderson Varejao, a Matthew Dellavedova, an energy guy who was known for scratching, clawing and just generally making opponents miserable.
Crowder changes that right away. Perhaps Thomas eventually will, too.
Speaking of Thomas, all 5-foot-9 of him was the focus of the press conference. Well, at least a small part of all 5-9 of him — or to be more precise, his hip.
Thomas suffered the injury in May in the conference finals against the Cavs. But when a reporter asked Thomas to address the issue, Altman interceded.
“To be fair to Isaiah, we’re not going to address any specifics on his hip injury,” Altman said. “We’re also not going to put a timetable on it. … We’re not going to rush it.”
When pressed, Thomas later added that there is indeed a plan set and “we’re just going to attack that plan and get me back to 100 percent as soon as possible.”
CHANCE TO COMPETE
Meanwhile, Crowder is healthy, and while still understandably feeling the effects of the death of his mother on the day he was traded, made it clear he is ready to get to work.
His mom, Helen Thompson, lost a battle with cancer. She was 51.
“I was able to whisper to my mom before she passed,” Crowder said. “I just told her, ‘I’m going to Cleveland,’ and five minutes later she passed.”
Crowder was gracious in thanking Boston, where he became an important part of a winning situation. He also expressed excitement over competing for a championship, playing alongside James, and yes, even old nemesis and Cavs shooting guard J.R. Smith.
Overall, that’s really what this press conference was all about.
“I’ve been in situations before where things have been a little tough, and we haven’t had the best players and we just kept fighting and worked with what we had,” Thomas said. “But, I mean, being put in this situation on the court is everything.”