Marcus Thornton eager to play, patiently awaits new labor deal
Marcus Thornton figures to be one of the top free agent options when the NBA resumes business. But the lockout, 140 days and counting, has kept his big payday on hold. So like the rest of us, he waits.
“I wasn’t expecting for it to go this long,” Thornton said over the phone from Louisiana of the league work stoppage. “I’m just sitting back and waiting until everything is done and see what happens then.”
Thornton has been closely watching the labor negotiations between the owners and players. Before the players union opted to disclaim interest in decertification, he carefully examined the offer on the table. But perhaps like most of the NBA’s 400-some players, Thornton admittedly has needed help understanding and comprehending the nuances of the proposed CBA deals.
“The older players are educating me,” the 24-year-old guard said. “My agent is educating me on it.”
Union Executive Director Billy Hunter and Union President Derek Fisher along with dozens of NBA players stood together as they announced their intent to decertify in a news conference on Monday. However, Thornton said no NBPA reps contacted him or asked for his personal feedback on Commissioner David Stern’s apparent do-or-die deal. So does he agree with the course of action the union decided to take?
“If it’s in good interest for the players in the long run,” Thornton said. “Then yeah I agree with it.”
Thornton is aware that the NBPA’s pursuit of litigation puts the NBA season in jeopardy, so his stance on playing overseas has softened. However, the experience abroad didn’t work out so well for new teammate J.J. Hickson. The Kings forward left Israel’s Bnei HaSharon after only one game because of apparent homesickness. Such issues are weighing heavily on Thornton’s decision-making process.
“It’s going into more consideration now since everything is happening with the lockout,” he said. “But I haven’t made a decision yet. Still going to talk with my family and my agent and see what’s the best route.”
A few months ago, Thornton denied passing on a deal to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv, but he said he had offers on the table to play in China and Spain. Those deals may or may not still be available for him.
“It’s still up in the air,” he said of possible overseas destinations. “I don’t have a specific place.”
For now, Thornton shuffles back and forth from his hometown of Baton Rouge and Los Angeles. In Louisiana, he’s been working out with longtime trainer Coach Gayle Hatch, who has helped train Thornton since high school. In Los Angeles, he tries to stay basketball-ready by scrimmaging with fellow NBA players, including former New Orleans Hornets teammate Darren Collison.
“We’re still best of friends so I go out there and work out with him,” he said of the current Indiana Pacers point guard.
For his sake and restless fans yearning for NBA action, hopefully not much longer.
Thornton on the Kings new coaching hires and departures
The Kings welcomed Bobby Jackson and Keith Smart to Head Coach Paul Westphal’s staff on Tuesday. They also said goodbye to Mario Elie, Truck Robinson and Otis Hughley. Thornton said he will miss Elie and Robinson.
“You know the last month I was there, Mario Elie helped me out a lot,” Thornton said. “I would say he really got personal with me and got the extra work in. We did a lot of one-on-one stuff together and Truck Robinson too. They were great. I hate to see them go, but it is a business.”
However, he is excited about the additions of the Jackson and Smart.
“He (Jackson) helped mentor me when I was there for that month,” Thornton said. “So it’s good to see him get a shot at a coaching job. And Keith Smart, he’s from my neck of the woods. So it’s always good to see somebody in your backyard get a shot too. I think it’s going to work out great.”