Hayes, the Modesto native and former Houston Rocket “big man” (all 6’6 of him) signed a deal with the Kings which will result in a 4 year, $21.3 million dollar contract. Initial reports claimed the Kings had used their mid-level exception however, that was later found to be untrue.
As for Thornton, it was initially announced that Marcus was re-signed to a 4 year, $33 (or 31, depending on who you ask) million dollar deal but moments later, Sam Amick confirmed that there was a “snag” in the initial deal – which was later confirmed by Thornton’s agent Tony Dutt. However, Dutt made it clear that the snag would get ironed out and would not alter Thornton’s return to Sacramento.
*edit, Thornton’s original reported deal with 5 years, $40 million – official contract is now the 4 year, $33 million – deal is now signed*
So….time to break it down? Oh yeah.
Let’s start with Hayes, who, from an on-court perspective is a solid signing. Many point to Hayes’ 6’6 frame and question his ability to play a productive center or power forward, but as we all know – size doesn’t make up the fight of the dog. You’d be hard pressed to find a harder working, more gritty, rough neck player in the league outside of Hayes. He’s a high quality defender (one of the best big man defenders in the league) and could easily be considered one of the better passing big men in the NBA. If you’re expecting the shot blocking ability of a Samuel Dalembert, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment but despite his ineffectiveness for blocking shots, Hayes’ long arms and physical play will alter shots on the defensive end – which in my opinion is just as effective. Another solid addition when it comes to Hayes is his ability to be effective on offense without the ball, something this team desperately needs considering the lack of Indians to Chiefs. Hayes wont do much more than a few garbage buckets and a couple short jumpers a game on offense when it comes to scoring, but his top notch passing ability will do wonders to spread out the Kings’ offense, especially when paired with DeMarcus Cousins who’s already on his way to being a top big man passer.
As for Thornton (who’s expected to be re-signed shortly once the snag in the deal is fixed), it’s hard to find fault in the move. Granted, as I’ve mentioned before, there is some risk in paying Thornton the money they did for two plus months of elite play, but you’re going to find risk in almost any scenario outside of a superstar. At an 8 million per year average, I wouldn’t call it cheap but I also wouldn’t call it excessive assuming the Thornton we saw in the final 30 games (and in his rookie year) is the Thornton you’re getting. In that case, it’s almost an underpay – but I expect a slight regression on the numbers with an improved Cousins and a healthy Evans. Even so, getting Thornton back on a reasonable contract can’t be frowned upon for the Kings.
Overall, the Kings did well in both scenarios. Did they overpay both Hayes and Thornton? In a way, yes – but it was required. There were multiple teams in on Hayes, a handful who were better than the Kings and the same can be said for Thornton. Sure, the Kings could have low-balled Hayes and Thornton – maybe swing for more acceptable contracts (let’s say 3/15 for Hayes, 4/28 for Thornton) but chances are, neither are wearing purple and black if those are the best offers the Kings could present. Is losing Hayes and Thornton worth the additional five to seven million it cost to get them signed away as opposed to potentially losing one, more likely both to other bids? I certainly can’t see it. It’s the belly of the beast and the Kings, right or wrong, have to abide by it. In short, the Kings did what they had to do and did it well.
No, the Kings didn’t make the big name, name in lights splash many of us had hoped for – but that doesn’t mean some blue collar signings wont be just as effective, if not more when all is said and done.