These are the facts.
1. After starting the first six games of the season (in which the Kings were worse than their 1-5 record indicated), Marcus Thornton was moved to a bench role for three games and then left on the bench entirely with two DNP-CDs in two nights this week. (Addendum to this fact: Ben McLemore has earned his starting spot and Jimmer Fredette played excellent ball on Wednesday.)
2. Scott Howard-Cooper reported Wednesday that the Kings are being aggressive in trade discussions, looking to offload veterans for prospects and picks.
3. Thornton doesn't have an attractive contract, especially for someone who has played poorly enough to be eclipsed by Ben McLemore and Jimmer Fredette within the first 10 games of the season. Thornton is due $8 million this season and $8.5 million in 2014-15. Lots of teams are seeking 2014 free agent flexibility.
These strains all compete. No. 1 indicates Thornton doesn't have a role on the Kings going forward. No. 2 indicates that the Kings probably want to move him. No. 3 indicates that might be difficult.
I don't see too many big NBA trades happening before December 15, which is the date players signed as free agents in the summer can be moved. And frankly, moves don't usually pick up until mid-January or even later. But if the Kings are aggressive, early moves could happen. Thornton has a skill -- scoring -- and not every team expects to have cap space in 2014 anyways. Those will be the teams that could justify Thornton.
The issue, though, is that the Kings are unlikely to get a good prospect or first-round pick for Thornton unless Sacramento takes a really bad contract in return. And there are surely some bad contracts out there, but unless they expire in 2014, does it help the Kings to make a move like that? The asterisk comes in considering whether the bad contract is attached to a decent player who fills a need position for Sacramento. Back-up center is one. Are there back-up centers on bad contracts who could be considered prospects? Does Bismack Biyombo count?
This is Pete D'Alessandro's biggest challenge: there is so little of value on this roster beyond the top three players and the 2014 draft pick. The Kings aren't trading DeMarcus Cousins or Ben McLemore, and the pick isn't going anywhere. (There are restriction anyways, due to the Hickson pick UGH UGH UGH I hate being reminded about that.) Isaiah Thomas is both awesome and valuable, but I'm not sure the Kings want to part with him for anything less than a really, really good piece. Would the Kings being willing to package Isaiah with Thornton to get something lovely? Would it be worth it?
I don't envy Pete's position on these questions. Nothing about this is easy.