Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas has reportedly signed an offer sheet with the Suns, and the talented 25-year-old will move to Phoenix in a sign-and-trade deal with the Sacramento Kings, the Suns announced on Saturday:
The Phoenix Suns completed a sign-and-trade deal with the Sacramento Kings that will send guard Isaiah Thomas to Phoenix in exchange for the rights to forward Alex Oriakhi, the club announced today.
“We welcome Isaiah Thomas,” said President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. “His addition to our backcourt makes it one of the deepest and most dynamic in the league. We have enjoyed getting to know him during his visit to Phoenix this week. He will quickly become a fan-favorite.”
“Isaiah is one of the most dynamic scorers and playmakers in the NBA,” said General Manager Ryan McDonough. “I have always admired his competitive spirit and his love for the game. He will be a great fit for our up-tempo attack and he will help solidify what we believe is the best backcourt in the league.”
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the move:
Sacramento restricted free agent Isaiah Thomas has reached agreement on an offer sheet with Phoenix, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 11, 2014
Suns and Kings are finalizing a sign-and-trade deal on a four-year, $27M contract for Isaiah Thomas, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 11, 2014
Thomas thanked the Kings on Twitter:
Thank you 2 @SacramentoKings organization for giving me a chance. It's been a great 3yrs and I wouldn't change that for nothing.— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas2) July 11, 2014
According to CBSSports.com's Ken Berger, Thomas will make $7.2 million in the first year and then slightly less each season over the remainder of the deal:
The Suns front-loaded the offer sheet with a starting salary of $7.2 million for Thomas and it went down from there, source says.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 11, 2014
For their part in the deal, the Kings will receive a trade exception of about $7 million and the draft rights to Alex Oriakhi, per Berger:
The Kings will get an approximately $7 million trade exception and the draft rights to Alex Oriakhi, league source says.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 11, 2014
During his first three seasons in the NBA, Thomas was a bargain for the Kings. He was the very last player taken in the 2011 NBA draft, and just finished up a three-year deal worth a little over $2.1 million.
Over those three seasons, Thomas outperformed his small contract by a considerable margin. He was especially dominant this past season, breaking out for 20.3 points, 6.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game while shooting 45.3 percent from the field.
At just 5'9", size has yet to be a factor for Thomas. This past season, he scored a career-high 38 points twice within five days against two top-tier teams in the Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers. A couple of months later, he recorded his first career triple-double with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against the Washington Wizards.
Before signing his offer sheet with and subsequently getting dealt to the Suns, Thomas claimed that he was excited to be a free agent, according to Aaron Fischman from Cowbell Kingdom, but that he would like to stay in Sacramento:
Yeah. I mean I’ve never really had it, so I’m looking forward to [free agency]. To just go into it with an open mind, do whatever’s best for myself and my family.
I would love to stay. I don’t like change of scenery. I don’t like change, so I would love to stay. I’ve been here for three years, and it would be great to be here for a while. You never know what will happen.
The Kings aren't left with much at the point guard position after Thomas' departure. Without him, Ray McCallum would likely be the starting PG. As a backup, McCallum struggled, shooting just 37.7 percent from the floor with 6.2 points, 2.7 assists and 1.8 rebounds per game.
With Thomas in line for a big payday, Sacramento was in a tough financial position, so retaining him was always going to be tough. According to HoopsHype, the Kings already have over $68 million invested in players, with Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins making more than $33 million combined.
It will be interesting to see how Thomas fits with the Suns and their offensive scheme, especially with the future of Eric Bledsoe yet to be sorted out.
Thomas' arrival could mean the end of Bledsoe, who's a restricted free agent, in Phoenix. He and Goran Dragic forged a fruitful partnership in the backcourt last year, so throwing in Thomas muddies the waters at bit.
Wojnarowski sees him as a possible sixth man at the moment:
Isaiah Thomas and Kings had run course together. They didn't want to make him starter. He didn't want to stay. Great fit as 6th man w/ Suns.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 11, 2014
Thomas has improved as a floor general and distributor of the ball, but he's still more of a shoot-first point guard, taking 15.2 shots per game this past season.
If he can effectively run the Phoenix offense while still continuing to be an efficient and explosive scorer, the Suns will be getting more than enough bang for their buck.