Thornton's return adds another body to Boston's already overcrowded rotation and forced coach Brad Stevens to make difficult choices with his inactive list.
Rookie James Young, fresh off a 13-point effort in his first extended minutes of the season during Monday's loss to the Charlotte Hornets, is inactive, much to the distress of Celtics fans. Stevens has stressed that Young is making progress and is on the cusp of a possible rotation role, but the Celtics have stressed they plan to take it slow with Young's development, especially while the roster is overstocked.
Veteran Jameer Nelson, who missed the last two games with ankle soreness, also is inactive. The return of Thornton contributed to Young and Nelson being in street clothes.
Some will argue that Boston should put a heftier focus on youth development while laboring through a rebuilding season, but you get the sense that Stevens simply is muddling through until additional roster moves unclog minutes by February's trade deadline.