Jason Thompson is currently the longest tenured King, dating all the way back to 2008. He's also No. 5 on the pay scale, making right about the NBA league average salary ($5.6 million). But he's also on a long-term deal -- he has guaranteed salary through 2016-17 -- and might not be the starter this season.
These are four things we know about the Kings and Jason Thompson right now.
1. The Kings are totally committed (for now) to DeMarcus Cousins, and Cousins and Thompson aren't the most compatible pairing imaginable. This applies in basically all strands: they don't seem to be particularly friendly (remember that JT and Donte Greene were best buds, and Greene and Cousins went to blows back in 2011), neither is a really strong defender (and in fact Cousins is a really weak defender) and neither stretches the floor to the three-point line.
2. This Kings front office signed Carl Landry, a power forward, in one of its three big free agent moves. Power forward was not exactly a need position before that signing. Landry has previously been in a battle with Thompson for the starting job. Adding Landry to a position where Thompson, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes already reside is not a sign of great confidence in the incumbents.
3. Thompson's contract is long, and that is one major factor in tradeability. He's guaranteed $6.4 million in 2015-16 ... and has a 5 percent trade kicker. (Thanks, Geoff!) He's guaranteed $2.6 million in 2016-17 if waived, per ShamSports.
4. Thompson is a really solid player. A decent scorer who doesn't need touches but knows what to do with them, a good rebounder, not a turnover machine. He's not excellent in any category (except personality/winning smile), but he's really solid.
Based on all of that, I really don't think Thompson is long for the Kings. Landry is at his best as a sixth man, a bench scorer who can bang and add some gravitas to the locker room. Patterson is pretty darn good, and while he's not a defender (sense a theme?) he can shoot the deep ball and he has a good relationship with Cousins. Patterson will be a restricted free agent in 2014, as will Isaiah Thomas, Cousins and Greivis Vasquez, barring early extensions. I imagine that Patterson will at the very least be given a strong shot to pair with Cousins this season. If it works, Thompson becomes almost superfluous because of Landry's bench scoring ability and Hayes' defense.
That said, it'd be a lot easier to imagine a Kings team with Thompson if the club had another center. Playing Hayes at center has worked in the past, but it's not optimal. And given Cousins' propensity for foul trouble and the ever-present hurdle of injury, you'd be looking at playing Luc Richard Mbah a Moute or Travis Outlaw at the four at times. Which, again, it's worked in the past. I'm not sure it's optimal.
I think the front office's devotion to Cousins carries with it a certain tone that makes me think Thompson is not someone they see in the team's long term. If that's the case, it'll be interesting to see how the rest of the league values a pretty solid, pricey big man with a good attitude.
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