Celtics Waive Malcolm Thomas and John Lucas III, Sixers Grab Chris Johnson

In a continuation of the Keith Bogans trade, the Boston Celtics waived Malcolm Thomas and John Lucas III, as expected and Chris Johnson found a new home, also as expected. 

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Chris Thomas, Deverell Biggs commit to Texas Southern

Mike Davis has made the Texas Southern Houston campus a resort for second chances players.

      
 

 

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Suns’ Isaiah Thomas has arthroscopic wrist surgery (Yahoo Sports)

PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix Suns guard Isaiah Thomas has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his left wrist.

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Why Los Angeles Lakers Should Try to Lure Isaiah Thomas Away in Free Agency

The Steve Nash experiment didn’t work out quite as planned. In two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, the iconic point guard has played in just 65 games because of injuries.

The organization’s search for the point guard of the future is overdue at this point, but now it finally has the financial flexibility to earnestly engage in such a pursuit.

A pursuit that could nab someone like Sacramento Kings restricted free agent Isaiah Thomas.

Ordinarily, landing a restricted free agent isn’t easy. The incumbent team has the right to match any offer received on the open market, so suitors often shy away from the process. But Thomas is a different story altogether, especially after the Kings agreed to terms with former Clippers point guard Darren Collison.

Collison‘s presence in Sacramento could be a harbinger of things to come for Thomas. USA Today‘s Sam Amick reports that, “A person with knowledge of Collison‘s situation not only confirmed the agreement but said the 26-year-old who was Chris Paul‘s backup with the Los Angeles Clippers last season is heading for Sacramento with the understanding that he will be the starter.”

That likely means the Kings will balk at matching a large contract for Thomas. They wouldn’t make that kind of investment in someone they view as a sixth man, not with other teams pursuing Thomas as a key long-term piece.

Should Sacramento hold on to its money and let Thomas walk, the Lakers could be the benefactors.

They’re certainly high on Thomas’ list.

And they have been for a long time. According to Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy:

It’s well-documented that Thomas grew up a diehard fan of the Lakers since his father is from Los Angeles, and he has idolized Bryant since he was a child. When asked what it would mean to sign an offer sheet with the Lakers, Thomas admits that it would be special.

“It would mean a lot,” Thomas said, per Kennedy. “Not even just the Lakers, but just to have other teams trying to get you, it means you’re wanted.”

The Lakers could certainly make Thomas feel wanted—namely because they have good reason to want him.

Even if Nash goes out with a bang and plays an integral role this season, the franchise has to start thinking ahead. Thomas would be an important start.

The 25-year-old had a breakout 2013-14 campaign, posting 20.3 points and 6.3 assists. He was efficient, too, especially for a guy who took 5.1 three-pointers per contest. Thomas finished the season with a 20.54 player efficiency rating, a mark that ranked fourth among point guards. His .574 true-shooting percentage placed him ninth among point guards.

Put simply, Thomas is an electric scorer coming off his best season. He added an estimated 11.9 wins for the Kings last season, speaking to the pivotal role he played for a young, rebuilding team.

Could he play a similar role for the Lakers?

Los Angeles could use a point guard who can shoot the ball, creating space for Kobe Bryant to operate from the mid-range and the post. Though the young floor general still has plenty to learn about running an offense, he’d be able to ease his way into the responsibility—initially allowing Bryant and Nash to initiate much of the offense.

Thomas would also benefit from having Nash around as a mentor. Few—if any—current players are better suited to training an up-and-coming point guard on the spot. Nash can do it with his eyes closed.

That kind of relationship would bode well for the franchise’s future.

Though Thomas is small (5’9″) and somewhat of a liability defensively, his knack for offense has to make him an attractive option.

And at the moment, the organization is relatively short on options.

As in-house solutions go, Los Angeles is limited to the affordable but inexperienced Kendall Marshall. The 22-year-old earned heavy minutes last season in Nash’s absence, averaging a fairly impressive 8.0 points and 8.8 assists. The pass-first point guard showed flashes of promise, but isn’t nearly as ready to take the helm as Thomas. 

Assuming restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe is out of the organization’s price range (or otherwise likely to be retained by the Phoenix Suns), there are few other free-agent possibilities seriously worth exploring.

Veteran Jameer Nelson could probably be had at a reasonable price, but at 32 he’s not the kind of guy around whom the Lakers can build. The same goes for Portland‘s Mo Williams.

Los Angeles could probably outbid the Toronto Raptors in pursuit of restricted free agent Greivis Vasquez, but Thomas is an all-around better player.

That leaves LA with a grab bag of relatively unattractive possibilities including Mario Chalmers, Kirk Hinrich, Ramon Sessions or D.J. Augustin—none of whom has the starting pedigree Thomas possesses at the moment.

So even if Thomas doesn’t seem overwhelmingly attractive at first glance, consider the alternatives. 

Thomas will start to grow on you.

At least if he’s available at the right price. The Lakers are set to have plenty of cap space in 2015, when guys like Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo are scheduled to become free agents. Much as this team wants to win now, it would be well-advised not to overspend and jeopardize future flexibility.

Pending that consideration, Thomas appears to be a strong fit, perhaps a valuable missing piece.

If the Lakers are looking around the market and doing their due diligence, they certainly can’t overlook him. 

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Isaiah Thomas Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding Star Guard

Isaiah Thomas‘ first foray into free agency had many expecting a major financial windfall for the second-round pick turned 20-point scorer.

Recent reports indicate that assumption may be wrong. 

Sam Amick of USA Today recently spoke to a source who indicated Thomas’ market value may be depressed due to his status as a restricted free agent. The source estimated that Thomas will receive offers in the range of $4 million and $6 million per season.

While that’s a massive pay raise over the $884,293 he made in 2013-14, it’s pittance compared to the salary level of most players with Thomas’ statistical output. The diminutive guard averaged 20.3 points, 6.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds this past season, his first getting full-time starter minutes. Thomas’ 20.5 player efficiency rating was fifth league-wide among point guards, per Basketball-Reference, and he’s a relatively young free agent (25).

Thomas recently told Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders he feels he’s established himself as one of the league’s top guards:

I felt like if I was given an opportunity, I could be one of the top guards in the NBA. I’ve said that before and people kind of looked at me sideways. But I feel like it’s all about opportunity and taking advantage of what people give you. The Sacramento Kings and Mike Malone gave me an opportunity and I just ran with it and did the things that I know how to do.

Amick’s source, however, highlights the tricky nature of restricted free agency. The Kings have the right to match any offer sheet signed by Thomas. Because of the NBA’s moratorium on official transactions, no deal can technically be signed until July 10. That gives Sacramento until July 13 to decide whether or not whatever offer put on the table is worth matching.

With unrestricted free agents offering a far less onerous path, teams are often more cautious with their restricted free agent overtures. Thomas will be the third or fourth option down the line for a team with cap space, rather than possibly being first or second if he was unrestricted.

There is also the question of how much Thomas’ size plays a factor. At 5’9″, he’s always going to be at a defensive disadvantage despite his strong build. The Kings ranked in the NBA’s bottom 10 in defensive efficiency, and it’s hard to tell whether Mike Malone can build an above-average defense with Thomas earning major minutes. The point guard position is too good across the league, and Thomas’ size puts him at a disadvantage against every other position.

Still, if Amick’s source proves correct, the Kings would be getting a steal with Thomas at the mid-level. A score-first point guard, the former Washington standout has an innate ability to finish through traffic. He made 62.4 percent of his shots inside the restricted area this past season, better than contemporaries Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry.

Factor in Thomas’ career 36 percent shooting from three-point range—roughly league average—and he’s a uniquely gifted player worthy of being an NBA starter. If his size and his restricted free agent status depress his market, the Kings may get a bargain. Jonathan Santiago of Cowbell Kingdom noted Sacramento has already been getting quite a value:

Then again, maybe Thomas will be better off accepting Sacramento’s qualifying offer. Although that would hurt his bank account in the short term, he could do free agency all over again next summer without the looming worry of a matched offer sheet. An extra season as a starter would also help Thomas prove his breakout 2013-14 campaign was not a fluke and flash much-needed improvement on the defensive end.

The Kings, already above the salary cap, would welcome the high production at a cheap cost. It’s difficult to tell what will happen. In most cases, the allure of long-term security winds up trumping the possibility of delayed gratification.

With Thomas having to suffer through second-round money his first three seasons, he might be satisfied with grabbing his first multi-million dollar check. It just not might be as many millions as he initially hoped.

 

All salary information is via Sham Sports. Statistics, unless otherwise noted, are via NBA.com.

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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Transfer Thomas to play for Miami Hurricanes

Forward Joe Thomas transfers from Niagara to play for Miami Hurricanes in 2014-15

      
 

 

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Transfer Thomas to play for Miami Hurricanes (Yahoo Sports)

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Forward Joe Thomas is transferring from Niagara to play for the Miami Hurricanes in 2014-15, and he will have one year of eligibility.

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Does Isaiah Thomas Have Future with Sacramento Kings?

For all of his career, the reputation of Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas has failed to catch up with his production. He’s had to battle for playing time and a starting gig, and now, he may have to look elsewhere for employment in restricted free agency or agree to a sign-and-trade deal. 

Yes, the Kings have money issues, and defensively the team could stand to upgrade at multiple positions, including point guard. But that doesn’t mean Thomas should be so readily cast aside, especially since his efficient scoring is so important on a team that features Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins.

If Thomas was a first-round pick, or if he was bigger that 5’9″, we might not even be having this discussion. He’d be a lock to stay, and the Kings would look to build around the elite offense he brings to the table.

Maybe you’re uncomfortable with hearing “elite” and Thomas in the same sentence, but remove the name and evaluate his numbers straight up, and you’ll get an idea of how positively great he’s been to start his career:

Player A: 19.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 18.7 PER, 57.4 True Shooting Percentage (Per 36 min)

Player B: 21.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 20.0 PER, 51.9 True Shooting Percentage (Per 36 min)

These are the stats of the first three years of two different players’ careers.

Player A is Thomas.

Player B is Allen Iverson.

 

This isn’t to say that Thomas is a Hall of Fame talent like Iverson, or that he’ll have a career like Iverson did, but more to illustrate the type of player he can be. Like Iverson, Thomas is small of stature and is a scoring guard through and through. He gets to the line, and he creates for himself and others with his ability to break down defenders off the dribble.

Those skills would probably carry more weight on a winning team, but Thomas hasn’t had the luxury of playing for someone like Larry Brown who could construct a contender out of spare parts like a basketball MacGyver

And so as the losses have piled up over the last three years, Thomas has seemingly failed to win over skeptics in his own front office.

Of course, this is about more than just a lack of faith in his ability. It’s a lot about the money, as well, and Sacramento might be strapped of it completely this offseason.

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.  

While it’s certainly possible that Gay opts out and negotiates a long-term deal, freeing up the necessary cap room to sign Thomas, it’s probably not the most likely scenario. Gay is going to have a hard time justifying the decision to leave all that money on the table.

Thomas has played well in Sacramento and has developed a nice chemistry with DeMarcus Cousins, so it makes sense that he may want to stay. Here’s what Thomas told Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee earlier this year:

“I definitely want to be around when it does turn around,” Thomas said. “I was drafted here. I’ve been welcomed with open arms by the Sacramento community. It just feels like a second home. I can’t control it, though. At the same time, I’m going to do whatever’s possible to be around. That’s all I can do.”

It would be awfully hard to blame Thomas for looking for a big payday elsewhere in restricted free agency. Sacramento seems reluctant to have him start at point guard, and although there are limited starting jobs around the league (Orlando Magic? Los Angeles Lakers?), Thomas could at least latch on to a contender as a high-paid sixth man, a role he’s flourished in previously.

Thomas deserves the money and the role, but finding it might be difficult. A sign-and-trade might make the most sense here, and it sounds like Sacramento is exploring a few different options.

While that particular deal is a pipe dream since the Suns would almost certainly balk and it would put the Kings deep in the luxury tax, it does give you an idea of what Sacramento may be looking to do with Thomas instead of having to match an offer sheet in restricted free agency.

Using Thomas as bait alongside the eighth pick in the draft could fetch Sacramento a “true” point guard, which might be a wasteful move. That would fall right in line with the rest of the organization’s moves over the last year or so, which included the signing of veteran forward Carl Landry (who was redundant with Jason Thompson) and the trade for Gay.  

The Kings, basically, are in scramble mode. Thomas may be a casualty of that, even though head coach Mike Malone told Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee earlier in the year that he’s optimistic about his core’s future:

“Not many teams have that three-headed attack,” Malone said. “It’s great to have. Hopefully, we’ll be able to keep those guys together because with that core, you add some pieces to that and you allow (rookies) Ray (McCallum) and Ben (McLemore) to continue to mature and get better, I think we have a solid foundation. Those guys offensively are terrific, and they’re getting better defensively.”

Thomas could be viewed as a core member, but it appears Sacramento may still be stuck looking to upgrade at point guard even though there are massive holes that need to be filled elsewhere.

Ben McLemore may come along, but is Gay really the long-term answer at small forward? What’s the depth behind those players? Who is the power forward for the future next to Cousins?

Without a proper evaluation and the necessary financial breathing room under the luxury tax, the Kings could very well trade Thomas to a destination he’s willing to sign with long term. Some team should and will appreciate Thomas, but it seems like there’s a good chance that team will never be the Sacramento Kings.

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Thomas leads Florida State past La Tech in NIT (Yahoo Sports)

Florida State was considered one of the first four teams left out of the NCAA tournament by the selection committee. Now the Seminoles are going to the final four of the NIT. Aaron Thomas scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half and Okaro White had 14 first-half points as Florida State defeated Louisiana Tech 78-75 Wednesday night to advance to the NIT semifinals. ”We have not won a national title,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said.

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Isaiah Thomas Injury: Updates on Kings Guard’s Quad Contusion and Return

Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas has been officially listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game against the New York Knicks due to a quad contusion, the team announced on Tuesday:

Thomas, 25, is coming off a 30-point game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, in which he showed little sign of any injury. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee noted Thomas’ collision with Bucks center Zaza Pachulia as the reason for his potential absence, but given he played a majority of the second half, odds are Sacramento is just being precautious.   

Leg injuries such as contusions and sprains tend to tighten up more with inactivity than after the initial injury, making the timing of the news more understandable. Thomas did not practice on Tuesday, according to Kings head coach Michael Malone via ESPN’s Jonathan Santiago, and the team will likely evaluate his status at its morning shootaround.

The Kings are hosting New York before traveling to Oklahoma City for a Friday tip against the Thunder, so resting Thomas against the lesser of the two opponents might be a smart strategy. But given New York’s recent surge, odds are against Sacramento winning any game with Thomas out of the lineup.

The diminutive guard has blossomed this season in his most extended minutes, averaging 20.7 points and 6.4 assists per game on 45.3 percent shooting. Thomas ranks fourth among NBA point guards in player efficiency rating and has been one of a select few constants in a season full of flux for the Kings. Ben McLemore and Jason Thompson are the only other two players on the roster who have played in all 70 games.

Sacramento is outscored by 9.5 points per 100 possessions when Thomas is on the bench, per NBA.com, contrasted against a dead-even rate with him on the floor. Though Thomas struggles defensively because of his size (and myriad other factors), the Kings are surprisingly better with him on that end as well.

Last week, Thomas recorded his first career triple-double in a win over the Wizards. 

“Isaiah is someone that gets a lot of criticism for being a guy that may not be a true point guard,” Kings coach Michael Malone told reporters. “You can call him a lot of things, but you have to give him his props because he’s a warrior and he has a huge heart.”

Should Thomas miss Wednesday’s game or extended time, expect a big minutes increase for Ray McCallum. The 2013 second-round pick has stepped into the backup point guard role since the Kings cleared depth near the trade deadline in an effort to integrate him into the rotation. McCallum is scoring 3.6 points per game on 37.4 percent shooting. 

 

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