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Kings re-sign guard Thornton to 4-year deal


Posted Dec 10 2011 2:32AM

Even though the Sacramento Kings are starting training camp a day later than most NBA teams, the franchise made sure it will have almost a full roster ready after a fast and furious start to free agency Friday.

The Kings re-signed shooting guard Marcus Thornton, finalized a deal for free agent center Chuck Hayes and completed rookie contracts for Jimmer Fredette, Tyler Honeycutt and Isaiah Thomas. The team also renounced the rights to center Samuel Dalembert, guard Pooh Jeter, swingman Marquis Daniels and forward Darnell Jackson.

By far the most pertinent - and expensive - move involved bolstering the backcourt.

Thornton's deal is worth at least $31 million over four years, a person familiar with the decision said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the Kings don't disclose contract terms.

"Marcus impressed us greatly last year and we just couldn't wait to re-sign him,'' Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "We made that a high priority and never felt it was in doubt. We're really pleased to have one of the fine, young shooting guards in the league to be on our team for several years to come. It's a great fit for him and us and was a high priority on our behalf.''

How Thornton's role will change this season is unclear.

Thornton averaged 21.3 points in 23 games for the Kings after being acquired in a midseason trade with New Orleans. Tyreke Evans, the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year, is expected to move to shooting guard this season to make room for Fredette.

Fredette, the former BYU point guard who became one of college basketball's most talked-about players last season, was acquired in a draft-day trade after being selected 10th overall by Milwaukee. The Kings are confident Evans can become a more prolific scorer at shooting guard, and Fredette's skills are more suited to play the point.

"He'll team with Tyreke and Jimmer and be part of a terrific, young backcourt,'' Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie said of Thornton. "We're very upbeat about the future potential for improvement and the opportunity to watch him play for the Kings again.''

The Kings also made a move to fill out some frontcourt depth.

They signed former Houston Rockets forward-center Chuck Hayes. The deal is worth $21.3 million over four years, said a second person familiar with that deal.

Hayes averaged 3.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 17 minutes per game in six seasons with the Rockets. He attended high school in nearby Modesto, Calif., and grew up in Northern California.

The moves all came on the first day players were officially allowed to sign contracts and most teams opened training camp. With a roster in flux from a team that finished 24-58 last season, Sacramento decided to push back the start of training camp.

Instead, the Kings will begin practices Saturday for the first time since the NBA lockout lifted.

"I'm very excited to be back with Sacramento,'' Thornton said. "I'm really ready to get this season going and pick up where we left off. This is a good fit for me with my teammates and coaching staff. I enjoy the city of Sacramento and the fans are great.''

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