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Isaiah Thomas situation should be resolved relatively soon

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It's July 10th and the Free Agency moratorium is over, meaning that teams are now free to go from verbal agreements to signed ones.  We'll likely get a press release from the Kings in the near future making the Darren Collison signing official.

Isaiah Thomas' future with the team is still in doubt however.  Thomas has yet to come to an agreement with anyone, but he is likely waiting to see how the LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony situations resolve themselves.  The Lakers for example, might be waiting to put a big offer until they see if they can land a big name.  Miami could put in their own big offer should they lose James and/or Bosh.

For those still holding out hope that the Kings will bring Isaiah Thomas back, Greivis Vasquez's contract that he signed with the Toronto Raptors would seem to dispel that hope.  We've heard consistently that the Kings won't overpay for Thomas and their ceiling on an offer for him was around what they gave Darren Collison ($5.3 million a year).  Vasquez meanwhile signed a 2 year, $13 million deal with the Raptors yesterday to serve as a backup PG.  If Vasquez is getting $6.5 million, what does that mean the clearly superior Thomas will get?  Whatever it is, it is highly unlikely to be something the Kings would match.

As for a sign and trade, it should be noted that the Kings CANNOT sign and trade Thomas if he actually signs an offer sheet.  Per Larry Coon's CBA FAQ on qualifying for a sign and trade the following must be true:

  • The player must re-sign with his prior team -- a team cannot include another team's free agent in a sign-and-trade.
  • The player must finish the preceding season with that team (deals are no longer allowed that sign-and-trade players who are out of the league, such as the sign-and-trade that sent Keith Van Horn from Dallas to New Jersey as part of the Jason Kidd trade in 2008).
  • The player cannot be a restricted free agent who has signed an offer sheet with another team.
  • Starting in 2013-14, the team receiving the player cannot be above the "apron" ($4 million above the tax level) after the trade. A team above the apron can receive a player in a sign-and-trade if the trade reduces the team's payroll and the team finishes the trade below the apron.
  • Starting in 2013-14, the team cannot receive a player in a sign-and-trade if they have used the Taxpayer Mid-Level exception that season.
  • The trade must be completed prior to the first game of the regular season (sign-and-trades are not allowed once the season begins).
  • The player cannot be signed using the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception, the Taxpayer Mid-Level exception, or any exception that cannot be used to offer a three-year contract .

The bold emphasis is what's important in this case.  The Kings got around this a little bit last year with Tyreke Evans because he only verbally agreed to the offer sheet while the Kings and Pelicans worked out a sign-and-trade. It's possible the Kings and Thomas could come to the same agreement but it all depends on what team he wants to go to.

(UPDATE 11:00 AM: Ok so I guess there's a little more here than meets the eye.  Apparently a player can sign, but as long as the team he signs it with doesn't give the offer sheet to the former team, in this case the Kings, a S&T scenario can still be worked on since it's not technically official until it's been handed over.  This is apparently what the Mavericks and Rockets are working on with Parsons right now and he has already signed. )

Speaking of teams Isaiah could want to go to, here are the teams that can offer Isaiah more than the Mid-Level Exception (i.e. more than the Kings would probably want to match) after some signings already this offseason:

  • Miami (but only if they don't bring the Big 3 back)
  • Phoenix
  • Philadelphia
  • Dallas (if Houston matches Chandler Parsons' offer sheet)
  • Utah
  • L.A. Lakers
  • Orlando
  • Detroit (Depends on what kind of offer Greg Monroe gets)
  • Charlotte (if Utah matches Gordon Hayward's offer sheet which is expected)
  • Cleveland (if they miss out on LeBron)
  • Washington (if they don't re-sign Ariza)
  • Atlanta
  • Milwaukee

Of those teams, the Pistons, Lakers, Heat and Mavericks have been connected with him in previous reports although Sam Amick reported the other day that the Pistons were not going after Thomas.  The Celtics had been as well, but they don't have enough cap room anymore after absorbing Marcus Thornton into their trade exception in the past few days, as well as the re-signing of Avery Bradley.

Finally, for those that like to read too much into these things, Thomas has recently started following the Lakers, Heat, Mavericks, Pistons and Suns on Twitter.  In any case, this situation will likely resolve itself once the dominoes start falling from the LeBron James decision.