Celtics rookie Marcus Thornton, the 45th selection of this year’s draft, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Sydney Kings of Australia’s National Basketball League, according to multiple sources.
Celtics president Danny Ainge had long made it clear that the team selected Thornton with the intention of having him play overseas or in the D-League.
For Thornton, one benefit of playing in the NBL rather than in Europe is that its regular season ends in February, which could allow him to return to the US and finish the season in the D-League. Boston will retain his NBA rights.
“I think it’s good for him to get an opportunity to play and just continue to progress wherever he chooses to play, whether it was in Australia or the D-League or anyplace he was going to get a chance to play,” Ainge said. “We’ve certainly seen flashes from him this summer.”
Thornton, William & Mary’s all-time leading scorer, averaged 5.1 points and shot 27.6 percent from the field for the Celtics during summer league play. He scored 21 points in 20 minutes in a win over the Heat.
Thornton’s father, Wayne, said Marcus hoped to develop his 3-point shot and play extensively at point guard in Sydney, because that would most likely be his position if he reached the NBA.
“He’s pretty excited about it,” Wayne Thornton said. “I think it’s what the Celtics had told him all along they were planning on doing, and so I think they have a strategic plan. He’ll get plenty of opportunities to play over there, and hopefully that leads him to future time with the Boston Celtics.”