HOUSTON, TX (WAFB) - Former LSU and Tara High basketball star Marcus Thornton returned from what he called a "great first class vacation" in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Monday night, but says he's even more excited about his next destination. After starting his NBA career an hour away from home in New Orleans, Thornton says signing a one year free agent contract with the Houston Rockets four hours away, means finding plenty of tickets to reconnect with family who can make it to his games with a car ride.
"Actually I have family in Houston too, so being able to reach out to them (cousins and uncles) every game and give them tickets and let them see my face will be great," Thornton said. "My friends can drive up. Being on the East coast, being way out on the West coast my family really couldn't get out there a lot. It will be great to get that family support," Thornton said with a noticeable anticipation in his voice.
The 6-4 shooting guard, who already spent two years in Texas playing junior college ball for Kilgore, has averaged almost 13 points a game over his pro career, even though he's only been on the court about half of the league's 48 minutes a game. And Thornton thinks that knack for scoring will fit right in with the Rockets. "From playing against them a lot, they play my style of basketball... run and gun," recalls Thornton. "They get out, up tempo and try to put points on the board, which is what I like to do," said this Baton Rouge native who has spent six seasons in the NBA in places like Sacramento, Brooklyn, Boston and Phoenix, since starting out in the Crescent City.
The fact that Houston and New Orleans are division rivals will bring Thornton back on a regular basis to New Orleans Arena (The Smoothie King Center) where it all began for him, after the Miami Heat drafted him and traded him to the team that was called the Hornets in 2009. After averaging 14.5 points as a rookie, Monte Williams never started Thornton again. After scoring just seven points a game off the bench in 46 games of his second pro season, he was traded him to the Kings where he achieved a level of stardom scoring 20 points a game over two seasons starting 74 of 78 games.
"You know it was tough early on, because I'm from Baton Rouge, played at LSU and had never really left home," said Thornton. The 28-year-old whose signing was officially announced on Saturday while he was vacationing, said he hopes the change of scenery will also get him more time on the court next season, after averaging just 15 minutes a game last year with the Celtics and Suns. Thornton says his mom's cornbread dressing will be an added bonus, now that he's not living and playing more than a thousand miles away from home.