The Kings decided to allow Isaiah Thomas to test the free-agency market, knowing they can match any offer because the point guard is a restricted free agent.
And there is plenty of interest in Thomas.
Six teams already have reached out to Thomas since Monday night. Boston, Detroit, Dallas, Miami, Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers have contacted Thomas, according to a league source.
Thomas has quickly become one of the most-sought-after point guards behind Toronto free agent Kyle Lowry.
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Detroit is reportedly willing to pay Thomas an average of $8 million per season. The Kings remain content to see if Thomas lands an offer the team would be willing to match. The indication before free agency began Monday night was that the Kings would be willing to pay Thomas in the $6 million-per-year range.
Before that is a concern, Thomas would first have to agree to and sign an offer sheet with Detroit. The Kings would then have three days to match the signed contract offer when the moratorium on signings ends July 11.
The mix of teams interested in Thomas shows the diverse views of him around the league. With Golden State, he’d certainly be asked to come off the bench, a role the Kings would not mind having him play. But Detroit’s new coach and head basketball executive, Stan Van Gundy, might be inclined to recruit the 5-foot-9 Thomas as a starter after having success with a diminutive point guard in Orlando, 6-foot Jameer Nelson.
Thomas believes he’s a proven NBA starter, even if some in the Kings’ organization aren’t convinced. He averaged career highs of 20.3 points and 6.3 assists in his third season.
Still, Thomas might wait until Lowry and other marquee free agents decide where they will sign before accepting an offer. Dallas, Miami and the Lakers are all looking to sign high-profile players. Golden State and Boston are continually linked to possible Kevin Love trades, too.
The Kings held true to their financial stance last summer with restricted free agent Tyreke Evans but were able to do so because they acquired Greivis Vasquez in a sign-and-trade with New Orleans.
Thomas could have more leverage than Evans had if he agrees to an offer sheet with a team the Kings are unable to trade with. The Kings were unable to acquire a second pick to select a point guard in last week’s NBA draft. The Kings will consider veteran point guards such as Brooklyn’s Shaun Livingston, too.
The Kings remain high on Thomas and like him, but whether he should start or come off the bench is still a debate. Thomas has produced in both roles throughout his pro career.