With salary cap pressing on them, might Kings let Isaiah Thomas walk?

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If I don’t get to see an Isaiah Thomas Pizza Guy ads next season on League Pass I’m going to be bummed. They are some of my favorite of the local ads.

But I may not because Thomas may well not be in Sacramento.

The Kings have long been torn on Thomas, even if the fans have not. Thomas is 5’9” and a defensive liability, but he has beaten out every guard the Kings have drafted/brought in to replace him. Last season he averaged 20.3 points a game with a true shooting percentage of 57.4 percent, plus he dished out 6.3 assists a night. He had a PER of 20.5.

Those are the kinds of numbers that will get Thomas, a restricted free agent, paid. Not eight figures, but $6 million at least, maybe a couple million more a season. That’s an issue for the Kings, especially if Rudy Gay opts in for his $19.3 million or re-signs with the team for a healthy contract. Good friend of this site D.J. Foster of Bleacher Report laid it out beautifully.

As it stands right now, the Kings have over $47 million in guaranteed contracts. If Rudy Gay opts in to his massive player option worth $19.3 million, that will bring the Kings to over $66 million. Then there’s the eighth pick in the draft to account for ($2.2 million), as well as Thomas. Without Thomas, the Kings should be at around $68.5 million in salary commitments.

That’s a problem, as the salary cap is projected to check in at somewhere between $63 and $65 million, meaning the luxury tax will be around $77 to $79 million.

If Thomas were to sign an offer sheet starting at around $8 million annually, which doesn’t seem unrealistic since that’s what point guard Jeff Teague pulled down in a similar situation last offseason, then the Kings would be a tax-paying team. You have to think that Sacramento’s ownership wants to avoid that, particularly if the product on the floor is an unlikely playoff team.

If Thomas gets a healthy offer, the Kings may not match.

The structures of the new CBA were in part the owners trying to take back control from the players and not let something like the Miami “big three” happen again where the players got to dictate the terms. Owners and NBA front offices didn’t like that loss of control. But those structures and taxes are going to make a lot of teams hit a wall, small or big markets.

How would you feel about the Ray McCallum era in Sacramento? Fans in Sac Town would be crushed if the Isaiah Thomas era came to an end — fans always relate to the little guy, the one their size, making their way among the trees of the NBA. He’s a favorite.

This wouldn’t be a basketball decision, it would be a dollars and cents decision. Welcome to the NBA.

But I’ll still have my favorite Pizza Guy add take off to watch forever.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.