Since the Day of Doom, rumors have been placing Jason Thompson as a throw-in for draft day deals. First, it was the No. 4 pick and Thompson to Memphis or Oklahoma City for (one would assume) Ricky Rubio. Now we have Rajon Rondo for the No. 4 pick and Thompson. With less than two weeks to go, the rumor mill will ramp up and we'll hear even more. And unfortunately, we'll hear Thompson being termed as a "throw-in."
I have two issues with this. One, the term "throw-in" has some unsavory attributes attached. It implies the "throw-in" is beyond the scope of the major pieces of the trade -- that, say, Rondo and the No. 4 are the critical pieces, and Thompson is just a condiment to make the numbers work. That's obviously not true in the sense that it's likely (in my opinion) Boston wouldn't do the deal without Thompson, and Sacramento wouldn't do the deal with Thompson. Same with the Memphis-Sacramento rumor. Memphis sure as hell isn't giving up the No. 2 for the No. 4 without getting an extra piece of some quality. Sacramento, on the other end, won't be casual about making Thompson available.
In other words, in all of these rumored deals, Thompson is a central component. Not a condiment. Chad Ford is reporting this right to a degree -- that Boston isn't giving up Rondo without getting a good piece like Thompson back. As in, it doesn't work logically without something else of value (or that's the thinking, at least). But the implication, as well as Ford's quickness in attaching Thompson a bit casually to other rumors, such as the Memphis one, is that neither team really cares about Thompson all that much, and if he'll help land Rondo or Rubio the Kings really don't mind. That may true, but the idea that the Kings don't value Thompson and would only give him up in for a player they desperately desire isn't accurate. And again, Ford's not really saying that. But the implication comes in, and we all get hung up on that.
When we're evaluating these types of rumors to figure out whether they make us happy or sad, we need to detach ourselves from the snap "I like JT!, so no!" reaction and really weigh everything. Don't fall into the rationale that "Rondo for the No. 4 sounds good to me, so I say no to the No. 4 plus Thompson." The question should be: is Rondo worth the No. 4 and Thompson? The question should be: is Rubio worth the No. 4 and Thompson?
I have trouble signing on to either idea. Things are too murky with Rubio's status to give an accurate answer as to whether he's worth it. I mean, with every passing day the hope that Rubio will be available at No. 4 grows in strength. With that in mind, it's impossible to advocate trading up. Geoff Petrie and Jason Levien will better know whether Memphis is in a position to pick him, or whether Oklahoma City will trade down so someone else can grab him. On Rondo, it's (again) tough to discern based on our vantage point. The idea that (again) Rubio could be available at No. 4 worries me -- would you give up Rubio and Thompson for a player like Rondo? I probably would not, but I've got Ricky colored glasses on.
But the key, again, is understanding that any deal including Thompson will be weighed by the Kings on the merits of giving up Thompson to secure the targeted player. He's not Ike Diogu. The team understands that.