Kings guard Marcus Thornton drew mention in late November as a player the Kings would “love” to move, and two months and two trades later, Sacramento is still trying to deal the 26-year-old shooting guard, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). The Kings have maintained an aggressive posture in search of trades throughout the season, engineering a pair of swaps to acquire Rudy Gay and Derrick Williams.
Thornton’s name came up earlier this month as part of a reported proposal the Kings made to the Nuggets for Andre Miller. The Kings inserted Thornton into the starting lineup at about the same time, but he’s averaged slightly less than 24 minutes per game as a starter this month, similar to the amount of playing time he saw as a reserve. His 7.3 points and 7.5 shot attempts per game are career lows by significant margins, and his 9.1 PER is the first below-average mark in that category for Thornton in his five NBA seasons. It’s a stark contrast to the 2011/12 season, when he was Sacramento’s leading scorer.
The 6’4″ shooting guard is Sacramento’s second-highest-paid player, making slightly more than $8MM this year. He’ll make $8.575MM next season in the final year of his contract. That deal is probably making it difficult for GM Pete D’Alessandro to find takers for Thornton, and the Kings would be selling low if they were to trade him.
Sacramento has Ben McLemore, the seventh overall pick from this past June, seemingly penciled in as the shooting guard of the future, so it doesn’t appear there’s much of a call for Thornton on the Kings. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if D’Alessandro hangs on to Thornton through the deadline and tests the market for him again in the summer, when his expiring contract would probably net more in return.