Kings coach Michael Malone is counting on Isaiah Thomas to play a lot of minutes, but he wants to cut back on Thomas’ workload.
In the eight games since becoming the starting point guard, Thomas is averaging 38.9 minutes. Thomas played 43 minutes, including the entire second half in the Kings’ 105-100 win over the Orlando Magic on Saturday at Amway Center.
Malone spoke with Thomas before the game to find out if the workload was too much.
“I told him it really hasn’t affected me, but last game (in Miami) I was a little fatigued,” Thomas said. “But at the same time I want to win, I want to be out there, I want to lead this team to wins. If I’ve got to be out there for 43, 45 minutes I can do it because I work hard to be in that position.”
Jimmer Fredette is Thomas’ primary backup. Malone also has used Rudy Gay as a facilitator to spell Thomas. Rookie Ray McCallum is the other point guard on the roster.
“(Thomas has) got a huge heart, and he’s going to say, ‘Coach I can play 48 (minutes) for 82 (games),’ but that wouldn’t be fair to him,” Malone said. “Because what happens is when you become fatigued you start making mental mistakes and you start turning the ball over, so I have to do a better job of giving him spells.”
If Malone is going to give Thomas more time to rest, either Fredette or McCallum will have to play bigger roles.
Fredette played five minutes Saturday, scoring five points.
MaCallum has appeared in six games this season, averaging 2.5 minutes.
“At some point, we have to give Ray an opportunity to play because we have to see who he is and get a real look under the hood, if you will,” Malone said. “I have to do a better job of trusting some of those guys and not running Isaiah into the ground, which is unfair to him.”
Referee Ken Mauer called the technical foul after Cousins had words for officials over foul calls.
Cousins would be suspended for a game if he reaches 16. Players are then suspended for every technical foul from that point on.
No other player in the NBA has more than five technical fouls this season.
Cousins has come within one technical foul of being suspended for a game in each of the last two seasons.