Isaiah Thomas has not been shy about discussing his views on his time with the Sacramento Kings. Another day, another quote about how Isaiah felt disrespected by the organization. This has been fairly regular since the Kings allowed Isaiah Thomas to leave in restricted free agency, executing a sign-and-trade to the Phoenix Suns. Now, I think the Kings made a mistake by replacing Isaiah with Darren Collison, especially since Isaiah eventually took only slightly more money than Sacramento wanted to pay him, and Isaiah is accepting the role the Sacramento Kings wanted him to play. However, I think it's time for Isaiah to get over it. The Kings didn't really disrespect him.
We can easily point to the long list of players that the Kings organization attempted to replace Isaiah with. Kings fans and Isaiah can both rattle them off pretty easily. But really, the current incarnation of the Kings can only be held accountable for Greivis Vasquez and Darren Collison. Vasquez was acquired as part of the sign-and-trade that sent Tyreke Evans to the New Orleans Pelicans. The current ownership and management of the Kings had been in place for just a few weeks, the front office wasn't really fully in place yet. It's difficult to fault the organization for bringing in options at the point guard position when they first took over the team. Every player on the roster had to prove themselves, except perhaps DeMarcus Cousins.
Vasquez, of course, did not hold the starting job for long. Isaiah Thomas proved himself to be the better option, and his starting place was secured as the Kings traded Vasquez to the Toronto Raptors as part of the package to acquire Rudy Gay.
As for Collison, it seems clear that the Kings signed him knowing that Isaiah Thomas would not want to stay with the Kings under the conditions the Kings wanted. We can argue until we're blue in the face whether Isaiah is a starter or not, pundits around the league continue to argue this even as they point to the Kings making a mistake by letting Isaiah leave. But Collison wasn't really meant to demote Isaiah, he was meant to replace an outgoing player.
Isaiah Thomas feels disrepected. That much is clear. He came into the league with a chip on his shoulder, a chip he's used as motivation his entire career. He's spent his whole life hearing he was too small to succeed at college ball, too small to make it to the NBA, too small to be a starter. I get it. That chip isn't coming off that shoulder anytime soon. But I don't think the Kings disrespected Isaiah.
The Kings made their offer, letting Isaiah know where they valued his services and in what role they wanted to use him. Once again, the money and role offered were nearly identical to the money and role that Isaiah Thomas eventually accepted from the Phoenix Suns. When it became clear that the two sides did not see eye to eye, the Kings sat back and allowed Isaiah to find his new opportunity.
The Kings could have threatened to match any offer, hurting Isaiah's market value. For a clear example of this, take a look at Isaiah's potential teammate-to-be Eric Bledsoe. Further, when Isaiah signed a deal in the range of the Kings' original offer, the Kings could have opted to match. Isaiah would have been stuck with the team he felt so disrespected by. The Kings could have viewed Isaiah as an asset, and matched with the intention of trading him at a later point. But the Kings didn't. They allowed Isaiah to leave.
Players often enter restricted free agency with hopes and dreams of finding a new home and a fresh start. They get wined and dined, fall in love with an organization, sign an offer sheet, only to end up right back where they started. Some get stuck even after publicly pleading to be allowed to leave, like Eric Gordon. Players in the league are often treated as assets to be used. The Kings played none of these games.
I would have preferred it if the Kings had kept Isaiah Thomas. But they didn't. C'est la vie. I've moved on. It's time for Isaiah Thomas to do the same.