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Mar 15, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) looks down after he fouled Chicago Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy (not pictured) as Kings guard Isaiah Thomas (22) reacts in the second half of their game against the Bulls at the United Center. The Bulls won 94-87. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento Kings: Will Isaiah Thomas Fuel Rivalry?

Season Tm G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
2013-14 ★ CLE 71 71 35.2 7.5 17.4 .430 1.7 4.8 .358 4.1 4.8 .861 0.7 2.9 3.6 6.1 1.5 0.3 2.7 20.8
Career 181 181 33.7 7.5 16.9 .447 1.7 4.5 .378 3.9 4.6 .862 0.7 3.0 3.7 5.8 1.4 0.4 3.0 20.7
Season Tm G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
2013-14 SAC 72 54 34.7 6.9 15.2 .453 1.8 5.1 .349 4.8 5.7 .850 0.7 2.3 2.9 6.3 1.3 0.1 3.0 20.3
Career 216 153 29.1 5.2 11.6 .447 1.5 4.2 .360 3.5 4.1 .857 0.6 1.9 2.5 4.8 1.0 0.1 2.1 15.3
Season Tm G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
2013-14 ★ LAC 62 62 35.0 6.5 14.0 .467 1.3 3.4 .368 4.8 5.6 .855 0.6 3.7 4.3 10.7 2.5 0.1 2.3 19.1

The first stat line is Kyrie Irving, the second is Isaiah Thomas and the third is Chris Paul. Similar statistics, although only two of the aforementioned have the respect and notoriety that one would typically command with that kind of production. Maybe the former Sacramento Kings point guard has good reason to be upset, and a justified chip on his shoulder which fuels an ensuing beef. If there’s ever been a rivalry between the Kings and Phoenix Suns, there’s one now.

“I tell everybody I love Sacramento, I always will love Sacramento, but when we play them I’m going to kill Sacramento,” is what (Thomas) the newest member of the Suns, told Sactown Royalty’s Blake Ellington at his youth basketball camp this week.

Thomas wasn’t offered the option to stay with the Kings, and after Darren Collison was signed to a three-year $15 million deal just 48 hours after the official free-agency period began, the writing was on the wall. Thomas was shipped to Phoenix in a sign-and-trade deal on a four-year, $27 million contract. He felt disrespected by the Kings, and he’s well within his right. After Thomas’ recent comments – it seems he won’t let it go any time soon either.

During the twilight of his NBA career moving in-and-out of the starting point guard position for the Kings, Thomas averaged 15.3 points and 4.8 assists per game. Last season, he put up 20 points and six assists per game with a Player Efficiency Rating of 20.5. Too similar to starting All-Star point guards in the league, too parallel to not be retained, and too good to be replaced by Collison.

Thomas has gone from a part-time starting option in Sacramento to possibly the third man in line with the Suns if guard Eric Bledsoe is retained. Speaking of which – it’s possible the Suns were seeking a potential replacement for restricted free-agent Bledsoe should he receive a max offer. However, with no max offer in sight for now, the Suns won’t look a gift horse in the mouth and hand Thomas his jersey. They’ll worry about his fit with their current roster later.

Being sixth man or playing as the official leader of a second unit won’t be very taxing for Thomas, and when he plays the Kings, he’ll undoubtedly give them a battle potentially four games in the season. In three games played against the Los Angeles Clippers (Collison’s former team) in the previous season (he was a DNP for fourth contest), Thomas dropped respectable numbers in two meetings. He’ll seek to do the same against the Kings, this time on the opposite bench.

Tm Opp GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS +/-
SAC LAC 0 31:01 9 13 .692 3 3 1.000 8 10 .800 0 2 2 4 1 0 1 29 0
SAC LAC 0 33:00 5 12 .417 1 3 .333 11 13 .846 0 2 2 5 1 0 2 22 +7
SAC LAC 0 17:25 2 5 .400 1 3 .333 0 0 0 2 2 1 0 0 4 5 -7
SAC LAC Did Not Play

Compared to Collison’s stats, which weren’t as impressive.

Tm Opp GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS +/-
LAC SAC 0 12:40 1 4 .250 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 3 0 0 0 2 +1
LAC SAC 0 10:05 3 6 .500 1 1 1.000 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 7 -2
LAC SAC 1 40:07 5 12 .417 1 2 .500 4 4 1.000 0 1 1 2 1 0 1 15 +1
LAC SAC 0 22:30 1 5 .200 0 0 0 0 5 3 8 5 0 0 2 2 +3

Although four games doesn’t tell the complete story, it seems that between both guards Thomas obviously has the edge in production and greater impact on the game. He’s confident in knowing he’s going to cause trouble for the Kings, and if he’s matched up at any point with Collison – Thomas will play with an endless supply of energy, hoping to beat him in the position battle every matchup. Whether they face off for one minute or 48, Thomas will show-up and be more than happy to deliver.

There’s more writing on the wall in this scenario.  It’s in all caps, bold, permanent ink and italicized to certify that Thomas has a legitimate beef with the Kings. At the moment it stands as a personal vendetta to further prove he’s a starter in this league, not only to the Kings and soon to be Suns – but also the NBA.

A mistake was definitely made on the Kings behalf. Isaiah Thomas is going to drill that point home for what might be the next four seasons.

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Tags: Isaiah Thomas NBA NBA Free Agency Sacramento Kings

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