On Tuesday we reported that Marcus Thornton, the last of the Celtics' four picks in the recent NBA Draft, was heading to Australia for the upcoming season. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the move became official and we learned which team he'll be playing for: the three-time National
Basketball League champion Sydney Kings.
#SydneyKings sign @celtics 2015 second round pick @M3Thornton → http://t.co/erS8H0UFVU #WeAreKings #NBL16 pic.twitter.com/kO8OH2EhOE— Sydney Kings (@SydneyKings) July 22, 2015
The shooting guard averaged 20 points per game on 45.6 percent field goal shooting in his senior season at William & Mary and was the Colonial Athletic Association's player of the year before being selected by Boston with the 45th pick in the Draft. He recorded 5.1 ppg in Summer League action, including a 21-point performance in a win over the Heat on July 14.
Among his new teammates is NBA veteran Josh Childress, who played seven seasons with the Hawks, Suns, Nets and Pelicans before joining the Kings last season. Sydney won three consecutive NBL championships between 2003 and 2005, but finished seventh out of eight teams with a 9-19 record last season.
As ESPN's Chris Forberg explains, there are at least two good reasons for Thornton to head Down Under rather than to a more competitive league in Europe. First, the NBL regular season is only 28 games long and ends in February, so at the very latest Thornton would stay through March if Sydney reaches the finals. This means he could return with plenty of time to finish the D-League season in Maine, where the Celtics had already told him he would be headed if he stayed Stateside.
Secondly, prior to last season the NBL introduced a salary cap exception for import players, which originally allowed the Kings to sign Childress. This could allow Thornton to get a better salary than many of his teammates and opponents, without having to deal with the language barrier he'd face in Europe.
Sydney head coach Damian Cotter soon took to Twitter to welcome his newest player:
Welcome @M3Thornton to the @SydneyKings! Excited to add a talented player and quality bloke! to our group. @celtics #nbl— Damian Cotter (@damiancotter) July 22, 2015
Best of luck to Marcus "Quality Bloke" Thornton on his Aussie adventure.
Follow Nick García on twitter @N_A_Garcia
Image credit: Getty Images Nick García 7/22/2015 02:38:00 PM Tweet Edit