Despite already possessing plenty of talent and depth in their backcourt, the Phoenix Suns signed restricted free agent Isaiah Thomas to a four-year, $27 million deal Friday, as part of a sign-and-trade deal with the Sacramento Kings. In exchange, Sacramento will receive the rights to 2013 second-round draftee Alex Oriakhi and an approximate $7 million trade exemption.
The addition of Thomas has raised some eyebrows, given that the Suns have previously expressed interest in re-signing restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe, not to mention they also have third-team All-NBA guard Goran Dragic on their roster for at least the 2014-15 season.
But according to former ASU standout Fat Lever, who currently serves as a radio commentator for the Kings, Thomas will have no problem fitting in with Phoenix’s potent offense.
“I’m not really surprised [Isaiah signed an offer sheet with the Suns],” Lever told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Burns and Gambo Friday. “I could see Isaiah playing anywhere in the NBA. He has what everyone calls the ‘it’ factor.
“Isaiah is a guy who can do anything he wants to and if you try to prove him wrong, you’re going to lose out. I can see Isaiah playing in Phoenix. It’s a perfect fit for him. Phoenix is a guard-oriented type of team.”
Taken with the No. 60 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Thomas has transformed himself from a fringe NBA prospect to a bonafide scorer during his first three years in the league.
In 72 contests last season, the 25-year-old averaged 20.3 points per game — good for 17th-best in the league.
While he compiled at least 46 games with 20 points or more in 2013-14, the Tacoma, Wash., native showed signs of regression with his three-point shot.
In fact, his 34.9 percent from distance marked a career-low for the third-year pro.
Lever, however, doesn’t see that trend continuing under Jeff Hornacek.
“Isaiah’s range is there,” said Lever, who also previously served as the Kings director of player development. “He had a three-point streak last year in Sacramento that was second all-time in Kings history. He can shoot the three.
“I don’t think Jeff is going to be concerned about that one bit. When he’s open, he has to take the shots. I think that’s going to be one of the transitions Isaiah is going to have to make with the Suns, because they are a three-point-oriented shooting team.”
Another knock, fair or otherwise, on Thomas is his play at the defensive end given his slight stature — listed at 5-foot-9.
But Lever was adamant in his belief that Phoenix will be getting a two-way player.
“He’s a very good defensive player,” said Lever. “He really is. If he gets out there and knows the schemes and everyone is on the system, he’s a good defensive player.
“Don’t let the size fool you. Big things come in small packages, and Isaiah is one of those small packages that brings a whole lot to the battle.”