With offseason signee Aaron Brooks firmly entrenched as the starting point guard for the Kings, coach Keith Smart has been going back and forth between second-year men Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas as the backup at that position. The time share has frustrated Thomas, who finished his surprising rookie campaign as the starter and started the first eight games of this season as well, and he's expressed a desire for a better idea of when he'll be playing, as Matt Kawahara of the Sacramento Bee details.
"Wouldn't you?" Thomas replied when asked whether he'd like more clarity on his role. "I would. But I mean, that's coach's decision, and I'm a team guy, so I just go with whatever he chooses. I mean, I'll always know I'm going to stay ready, no matter what."
Thomas said he doesn't understand why Smart decided to split his minutes with Fredette, but Smart said he's doing so in part because he feels both players need to play in order to improve. While Thomas, the last pick in the 2011 draft, assumed a prominent role last year, 10th overall pick Fredette saw fewer than 20 minutes a game as a reserve.
Appearances and minutes are especially important to Thomas, given the stipulations in his contract. His minimum-salary deal for next year will be non-guaranteed if he doesn't average 15 or more minutes per game in the 50 contests in which he plays the most minutes this season, according to ShamSports. Failure to appear in at least 50 games is another trigger that would make the contract non-guaranteed next season.
Thomas might actually want to root for less playing time to make his deal non-guaranteed and prompt the Kings to waive him in the offseason, when he could bank on his performance from 2011/12 to find a deal for better than the minimum. That would be shortsighted, though, since he'd be in line for a much more lucrative contract in the summer of 2014 if he can improve upon last year's performance.