Sacramento Kings starting point guard Isaiah Thomas has beaten the odds for his entire basketball career and now he’s set to get his first big payday.
The Kings recently extended a qualifying offer to Thomas making him a restricted free agent, and league sources tell PBT that as many as five teams have expressed interest in making an offer to steal away the point guard.
The Pistons, Heat, Lakers, Mavs and Suns have all expressed interest, with the Pistons showing the most interest to date and numbers starting in the three-year, $24 million range. Talks with teams in playoff contention have started in the $6-7 million per-year range.
Thomas averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per game last season while hitting 45.3 percent of his shots. He ranked second for the Kings in win shares with 7.7, just behind DeMarcus Cousins at 7.9 and ahead of Rudy Gay at 4.5, with the rest of the team far behind the trio.
Last season, Thomas also became the 29th player in league history to have averaged 20 points and six assists in a year with a 20.0 Player Efficiency Rating (PER). The Kings were 3.9 points per possession better defensively with Thomas on the floor last season.
The NBA is set to release its official 2011-12 schedule later this evening, during a program which will be broadcast on NBA TV at 7 p. m. ET. But one team’s schedule has leaked in its entirety, and it shows that plenty of fans won’t be happy with the way things shake out.
The Phoenix Suns’ 2011-12 schedule was obtained by Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, and has been posted on the paper’s website. We already knew going in that not every out-of-conference team would be seen in every NBA city, and the Suns are one team that certainly seemed to get the short end of that stick.
The NBA let us know ahead of time that as far as non-conference scheduling would go, home teams could expect to play three teams two times (one home, one away), play six teams one time at home, and play six teams one time on the road. So, there will be some teams in the West who don’t host the best teams featuring the biggest stars of the East, and vice versa. The Suns? They don’t host almost any of them.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and the Miami Heat will not be coming to Phoenix, nor will the reigning MVP Derrick Rose be visiting with his Chicago Bulls. Dwight Howard (if indeed he remains in Orlando this season) won’t be coming to town either, and neither will the Boston Celtics.
Most importantly to Suns fans, perhaps, is the fact that Amar’e Stoudemire won’t be back for the second time as a member of the New York Knicks.
The Suns aren’t likely to be the only team affected by the schedule this way, and they won’t be the only team affected by the loss of ticket sales from the guaranteed sellouts that these star-laden teams would provide. They’re just the first example of how the shortened season is going to impact fans in most markets who will be denied the chance to see the NBA’s biggest stars play in person.
From Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic:
At 7 a.m. Phoenix time, the Suns began talking to agents of players. That meant checking in on some of their own guys but the first calls needed to go to the agents of free-agent players to show the Suns’ interest. The Suns will be feeling out the market for a scoring wing player and a backup point guard but there will be no spending that disrupts the salary-cap space they have set up for the summer of 2012. The free agent priority is getting an agreement with Hill, who is still represented by Babby’s former firm with Jim Tanner acting as Hill’s agent.
“Grant is an absolute first order of business and top priority,” Babby said of Hill. “I can’t contemplate him not being here. He represents everything we want the franchise to stand for — on and off the court. He’s our ballast.”
It had been widely speculated that the 39-year old Hill might be willing to take a massive pay cut, take his talents to South Beach, and chase that elusive ring, but Coro lays out a pretty compelling list of reasons why Hill will probably remain in Phoenix for the remainder of his career. If Hill does stay in Phoenix, it’s highly unlikely he’ll get that ring, which is unfortunate, but he’ll be remembered as a great talent who fought through injuries, always played the game the right way, kept playing at a high level well into his late 30s, and was one of the NBA’s all-time class acts.
Hill played in 80 games for Phoenix last season, and averaged 13.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 30.1 minutes per game, which is incredible for someone Hill’s age with his injury history.