WALTHAM, Mass. -- When the phone rang this summer, Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas had to do a double-take when he saw the name on the caller ID.
It was Gerald Green, his ex-teammate in Phoenix.
Although they only shared a locker room for 45 games in Phoenix, the two became quick friends.
On the court they developed instant chemistry while coming off the Suns bench. And that bond spilled off the court as Green would later spend time with Thomas in the Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. area in the summer months.
They were cool with each other, cool enough to where Thomas knew it wasn’t in Green’s nature to pick up the phone and call just to say hi.
“Gerald doesn’t call anybody,” Thomas said. “When he called I knew something was up.”
Green said Boston, the team that drafted him in 2006 straight out of high school, was interested in bringing him back for a second stint with the club.
“I tried to put my two cents in and he got here,” Thomas said.
There were several factors that led Green back to Boston, with a chance to reunite with Thomas being high on that list.
Green, already in Phoenix at the time the Suns signed Thomas in 2014, was impressed with the way the 5-9 guard carried himself.
“He was a genuine guy, came in really humble,” Green said. “I saw the talent was there. I knew he had the potential to be one of the best point guards in this league.”
Thomas certainly made a case for such lofty praise with how he performed last season, good enough to earn his first all-star selection.
What really stuck out to Green was that Thomas’ mentality and approach to the game was almost a carbon copy of his own.
“When we stepped on the court we had the same mentality,” Green said. “By any means necessary, get a bucket and play harder than the next team; just try and push the first team, make the first team better every day.”
Thomas was coming off the bench, showing lots of potential and promise that he could carry a heavier load if given an opportunity to do so.
He averaged 15.2 points, 3.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 25.7 minutes off the Suns bench in 46 games. Even more significant was that when Thomas did play for the Suns, they were 26-20.
In the games without him, they were just 13-23.
Green was admittedly disappointed they traded away Thomas, believing that season would have had a very different outcome had they not sent him to Boston.
And just like Green recognized Thomas’ skills and how much his team could have benefited from keeping him around, Thomas speaks in glowing terms about Green and what his return to Boston means for the team.
“We needed someone like him; a guy that could shoot the ball, a guy that could space the floor; instant scorer whether he starts or comes off the bench,” Thomas said. “Where the he starts or come off the bench. He’s going to really help us.”