A year ago, Marcus Thornton was unsure about his future in the NBA.
After an impressive rookie season with the New Orleans Hornets in which he averaged 14.5 points and was an NBA All-Rookie Second Team selection, new coach Monty Williams cut his minutes in his second year.
Wondering if he'd ever get another chance in New Orleans, Thornton was dealt to the Kings just before last February's trade deadline, something he would call a blessing more than once during the final 27 games of the 2010-11 season in Sacramento.
So it wasn't a hard decision for restricted free agent Thornton to re-sign with the Kings on Friday for four years worth approximately $33 million.
Thornton was one of five deals the Kings completed on the first day contracts were allowed to be signed.
The Kings also signed free agent forward-center Chuck Hayes from Houston along with draft picks Jimmer Fredette, Tyler Honeycutt and Isaiah Thomas.
Thornton said he wasn't "boo-hooing" over the new deal but did get teary eyed once he realized he was back where he wanted to be.
"My whole life, nothing was given to me easy," Thornton said. "It's always been a grind and a fight for it. To be able to have days like this, I'm just very thankful. I thank the Lord every day."
Thornton didn't take the route of the high school superstar.
He played two seasons of junior college basketball at Kilgore Community College in Texas before returning to his home state to play at LSU.
After two seasons in Baton Rouge, La., Thornton was a second-round pick of the Miami Heat in 2009, but his rights were traded to New Orleans.
All seemed well in New Orleans until his second season when his minutes dropped from 25.6 to 16.2 per game. His production suffered, as he averaged just 7.8 points compared to 14.5 per game as a rookie.
That all changed when the Kings sent Carl Landry to New Orleans in exchange for Thornton, who averaged 38.1 minutes and 21.3 points per game in Sacramento. He also started 23 of his 27 games.
Grateful for the opportunity the Kings gave him, Thornton flew to Sacramento on Thursday anticipating a deal would get done.
"At the exit meeting (after last season), I had a feeling I was wanted here," Thornton said. "But things happen, things can work out in a certain way. I'm just glad things worked out in my favor."
Thornton's agent, Tony Dutt, said there were some bumps in the negotiations while figuring out the new collective bargaining agreement.
Each side believed a deal would be done.
"There's a lot of guys that try to use every piece of leverage they have," Dutt said. "But, in this case, he was very tied-in here and really compassionate for what they did for him last year."
Thornton finished last season starting at guard along with Tyreke Evans.
"He'll team with Tyreke and Jimmer and be part of a terrific, young backcourt," Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie said in a statement.
Hayes was another priority for the Kings.
Hayes signed a four-year deal worth $21.3 million, turning down the chance to play for a similar deal with other teams.
One team Hayes rejected was Minnesota, which hired former Kings and Houston coach Rick Adelman in the offseason.
Hayes' career blossomed in four seasons under Adelman, who used the 6-foot-6 post player at center when injuries cost the Rockets Yao Ming and Dikembe Mutombo.
"Telling Coach (Adelman) I was coming to Sacramento was tough, because he wanted me there and I would love to play for him," Hayes said. "But the situation is better here in Sacramento than in Minnesota."
Hayes spent his first six seasons with the Rockets after a four-year career at Kentucky. He joined the Rockets as an undrafted free agent in 2005.
Hayes earned a reputation as a tough defender in the post, even though he is shorter than most post players. Last season, he averaged 7.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
While Hayes is known for defense, the Kings believe he will be an asset on offense, too.
"He's a great ball mover," Kings coach Paul Westphal said in a statement. "In a lot of ways, he's a point guard from the center position. I think his addition will help all our young, scoring players get more shots."
Hayes prepped at Modesto Christian High School, where he was an All-American.
The Kings also renounced the rights to four of their free agents Samuel Dalembert, Pooh Jeter, Darnell Jackson and Marquis Daniels.
Only Dalembert was in line to be re-signed. The move means Dalembert can only receive a four-year deal from the Kings if he is re-signed. Dalembert, who ended the season as the starting center, was eligible for a five-year deal by the Kings if they had retained his rights as their free agent.
The terms of the rookie contracts were not disclosed. Fredette, as the 10th overall pick, is eligible for a two-year deal with team options for years three and four.
Fredette's starting salary must be 80 to 120 percent of $1,923,600.
Honeycutt and Thomas are second-round picks, meaning they do not have guaranteed deals.