LAS VEGAS – Most Sacramento Kings fans took the news of the Isaiah Thomas’ departure to the Phoenix Suns hard on Friday. A fan favorite, Thomas worked his way up as the final pick in the 2011 NBA Draft to the Kings’ starting point guard, averaging over 20 points and six assists last season. At 5-foot-9, the dynamic scoring guard connected with not only the fanbase, but with his coaches and teammates as well.
Following the Kings 85-69 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night in the team’s Las Vegas Summer League debut, we caught up with members of the Kings to get their reaction to the loss of Thomas to the Western Conference rival Phoenix Suns.
- “I’m happy for him. We exchanged text messages today. I love Isaiah. I think the world of him as a person (and) as a player. I’m very happy for him. I think all the hard work he’s put in since he’s come to the NBA has paid off and I think he’s in a good situation on a good team in Phoenix.” -Michael Malone
- “Isaiah was definitely great for me. I really looked up to him with us both being second round picks. And he always taught me that when I got my opportunity, to make the most of it. I’m happy for him and he deserves it and I definitely learned from everything he taught me.” -Ray McCallum
- “I think it’s a great thing for him. At the end of the day, this is a business, that’s what I learned. This is the business end and we just have to keep moving forward as the Sacramento Kings.” -Ben McLemore
Owners Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov were also on hand and both spoke glowingly about Thomas. Ranadive said that he loved Thomas and was very happy for his former starting point guard, but at the end of the day, it was a decision made by the team’s basketball people.
Faced with a potential four-year, $27-million contract offer from the Suns, the Kings worked out a last second sign-and-trade with Phoenix for a $7.2-million trade exception and the rights to former 57th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Alex Oriakhi.
Jonathan Santiago also contributed to this post.