BY Todd Dybas 06:13AM 06/24/2011

Dybas: Lockout makes late better than never for Thomas

Former Husky Isaiah Thomas was taken with the final pick of the 2011 NBA Draft. Often, this is a career death sentence. Not this year.

Washington guard Isaiah Thomas was the only Husky player selected Thursday night. / Jeff Gross, Getty Images

Two consecutive vital sentences came from NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver almost four hours into Thursday night’s draft.

“With the 60th pick, the Sacramento Kings select Isaiah Thomas, University of Washington.”

“Goodnight, New Jersey!”

The first was a last-gasp pick-me-up for Washington fans. The second was a thought expressed by millions right before wondering what that smell is as the turnpike flashes by.

Respectable writers catapulted Thomas’ likely selection as high as the late in the first round. Most had him mid to late second round. Eventually, he became the final pick following a closing flurry of mystery meat selections.

Applied history would make Thomas’ selection not seem to be in his best interest. Often players taken so late are relegated to a training camp where they have no shot at making the roster. If they were free agents, they could choose a training camp that may work better for them.

Not so here.

The circumstances, like Thomas’ game, are unique. The pending lockout leaves undrafted free agents in turmoil not typically dealt with. There could be no Summer League. No multiple camps to try and latch onto. It’s a mess.

Plus, Sacramento stands with a paltry roster Thomas could crack. The inaccurately named Kings (24-58 in 2010-11) traded point guard Beno Udrih on draft night in order to finagle a spot to take Captain America, Jimmer Fredette.

That leaves Sacramento with two partial points, Fredette and Tyreke Evans. But Thomas does not need to worry about those fancypants. He needs to focus on one guy: Pooh Jeter.

Jeter is the Kings’ fourth guard. He was undrafted out of Portland and broke into the league last season. He’s 5 foot 11, 175 pounds. Averaged 13:28 of playing time in 62 games.

The main thing for Jeter, Thomas and the Kings? The Kings hold an option on Jeter. They can jettison him back to the scrap heap.

Wednesday, Sacramento picked up the options on three players: Evans, Omri Casspi and DeMarcus Cousins.

For Thomas, the situation is not as dire as it normally appears for the final pick. The rundown of what the past five have done:

2006: Will Blalock. Played 14 games his first year, then went overseas.
2007: Milovan Rakovic. Never made it from Serbia. Playing in Italy.
2008: Semih Erden. Capably contributed to the Celtics last year in backup role prior to injury.
2009: Robert Dozier. Played overseas.
2010: Dwayne Collins. Possibly gardening with Ciscoe.

Thomas’ tumble was countered by Washington State’s Klay Thompson being selected 11th overall by Golden State. The shooting Coug progressed up mock drafts, and, more importantly, the real one.

Huskies Justin Holiday and Matthew Bryan-Amaning did not get a sniff during the draft drudgery. Housed in a venue too large, and in the aforementioned New Jersey, the draft lost its steam despite all of ESPN’s polishing. The flavor present in past drafts at Madison Square Garden was lost Thursday.

ESPN’s announcers were left to spew cliches for four hours. Meanwhile, the place emptied out.

By the end, Stuart Scott’s triteness echoed throughout the vacated building.

ESPN also ran into another issue through the broadcast. It was hammered by Twitter.

Anyone following the Yahoo! Sports know-it-alls knew picks and trades several minutes prior to their announcement on television. ESPN’s Jay Bilas and Jeff Van Gundy debated the merit of a pick most of the world knew was already traded, making their often forced banter moot. When it comes to forced banter, moot is the worst kind.

The World Wide Leader could have injected levity into the night if they properly attributed trade news — of which there was a dizzying amount — each time they picked a new talking head to espouse it. What Ric Bucher was “reporting” had actually been reported first several minutes earlier by another outlet. But ESPN kept its focus, not pandering to fact.

Alas, Thomas is a King. For now. The labor situation, the destiny of Pooh and the Kings ownership situation combine for a murky future.

For one night, he heard the words he had been waiting for. That they came from the NBA’s second in command after he thanked fans and sponsors means little now.

“I got my foot in the door, and now I’m going to knock it down,” Thomas said.

Thomas was drafted. A tall order accomplished by a short man. Even if it was as the last pick.

Goodnight, New Jersey.


  • Sean Wirtz

    At least he’ll have a chance to play in Seattle next year.

  • Sean Wirtz

    At least he’ll have a chance to play in Seattle next year.