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NBA Free Agents 2011: Marcus Thornton Receives Qualifying Offer From Sacramento Kings

In the least surprising basketball story of the year since "Mike Bibby's NBA career murdered by J.J. Barea", Sacramento Kings guard Marcus Thornton received his qualifying offer. It was a foregone conclusion that Thornton would be retained by the Kings; as he's now a restricted free agent, other teams must bid on him if they want to get him.

When Thornton arrived, the Kings were 14-42 and near last place in the Western Conference. Despite the frequent absence of Tyreke Evans, Thornton helped the Kings rumble back to respectability with a 10-16 finish that gave Sacramento some reason to hope--a young nucleus of Evans, Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins might be something to build a contender around, much like the group of young talent being accrued in Oklahoma City with the Thunder.

Currently, Thornton is making a salary of around $762 thousand, one of the lowest contracts in the NBA. While many teams will probably pursue him, the Kings have plenty of cap room set aside to retain his services. If he were to leave, someone would have to offer him a drastic contract.

Where would Thornton fit the best this offseason? And should Sacramento match any offer that other teams make for Thornton? Let us know in the comments!

For more on the Kings, check out Sactown Royalty.