Isaiah Thomas is in the midst of his best season to date, averaging 20.2 points and 6.3 assists a game (21.5 and 6.9 as a starter). He is in the last of his three year rookie contract, set to become a Restricted Free Agent this summer. He and Kyle Lowry will be the premiere Point Guard Free Agents this summer.
Thomas also appears to be the most valuable piece the Kings are willing to give up in a trade, as ESPN's Marc Stein reports:
Most intriguing Sacramento-based deadline story is increasingly loud buzz out there that Isaiah Thomas is available in midst of career year— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 18, 2014
Kings moved swiftly today to make it clear Ben McLemore will NOT be dealt this week but strong word in circulation is Thomas CAN be had— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 18, 2014
Kings in tough spot w/IT headed to restricted free agency. Of course ... anyone trading for his big stat line/low salary faces same issues— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 18, 2014
Now there's an important distinction to be made here. It's one thing for a player like Thomas to be available, and a whole other for him to be traded. Anyone, and I mean anyone, on this team is available if the right offer came along.
With regards to Thomas, I wrote yesterday that if the Kings were to trade him, they would be smart to do so now when his value is the highest it has ever been and likely will be. He's a player that is ready to contribute at a high level immediately, has a small cap hit for this season, and will be a restricted free agent this summer, meaning that team will have key control over his free agency (Note that all these advantages apply to Sacramento as well if they don't trade him).
One potential issue with Thomas lies in the fact that his re-signing this summer could put the Kings over the luxury tax. As of this moment, the Kings have about $68.2 million in salary obligations next year if Rudy Gay opts into the final year of his contract. That number doesn't take into account Thomas or the Kings 1st round pick next year. Let's assume that the Kings pick 7th again. That would bump the Kings cap to $71.1 million. Per ShamSports, the 2014 Luxury Tax Threshold is $71.748 million. Even if the cap is increased by a couple million (which would be a big change), that pretty much guarantees that re-signing Thomas would put Sacramento over the cap. That's also for just an 11 man roster, 12 man if you add Isaiah, meaning the Kings would need another player just to be at the minimum roster limit.
The ideal scenario for Sacramento is for Rudy Gay to opt out of his contract and sign a longer extension for a smaller annual amount. That would give the Kings plenty of room to re-sign Isaiah without hitting the tax. But if he doesn't, the Kings should probably still sign Isaiah, because the tax hit will only last a year, with the Kings obligations falling dramatically after next year (Gay, Thornton, Outlaw all come off the books) and even more if Thompson and Landry are moved for smaller contracts.
So yes, Isaiah Thomas is available, but if I was a betting man, he's going to remain a King because the asking price will be high, and rightly so. Thomas is young, improving and already playing at a high level. He might not be a "pass-first" Point Guard, but his 6.9 assists a game as a starter would rank him 10th in the entire league, and his 21.5 points a game would tie him with Kyrie Irving and trail just Stephen Curry among all Point Guards, and he's in just his 3rd year. That's not a player you get rid of without getting something substantial in return.