Few NBA players have had as frustrating a career as Jason Thompson. Recently the Kings changed their starting lineup once again, moving Thompson to the bench in favor of first Reggie Evans and then Derrick Williams. Last night after the Kings blew out the Sixers, Thompson vented some of that frustration to the Bee:
"That might not even be to the extreme of how I feel," Thompson said. "To say that I'm happy, I probably wouldn't be telling the truth. Some of the things are out of my control and sometimes you're put in situations where it's tough to succeed. But in a way, I'm being the ultimate pro and taking what comes to me every day."
The Kings are on their way to their 6th straight sub-30 win season, and Thompson has been a part of each of their teams. Brought in as a rookie, he played on the worst Kings team in history, a team that won just 17 games. Since then the Kings rebuilding effort hasn't really made up much ground.
Here's just a sampling of what's happened since Thompson was drafted:
- Played under 5 head coaches: Reggie Theus, Kenny Natt, Paul Westphal, Keith Smart, Michael Malone
- Three different faces of the franchise: Kevin Martin became Tyreke Evans became DeMarcus Cousins
- Two different (failed) relocation attempts to Anaheim and Seattle.
- Two different ownership groups and front offices
- Players that have been brought in to start ahead of him: Carl Landry, J.J. Hickson, Samuel Dalembert, Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson, Carl Landry again, Reggie Evans, Derrick Williams.
- 65 teammates and counting.
I can't think of many players who have gone through as much losing and chaos as Thompson has in his first six season as a player and still managed to be on the same team, especially a non-star player. Few guys could use a fresh start in another city as much as JT, but the problem lies in his contract, which while it isn't a huge amount per year, is locked in for three more years (although the final year is just $2.65 million guaranteed) and contains a 5% trade kicker to boot. The Kings tried to trade him at the deadline but couldn't find a taker. A buyout also seems out of the question because Thompson would have to give up a lot of money for it to be worth it to the Kings (the buyout amount remains on the cap and can't be removed).
Fortunately for JT, this is probably his last season in Sacramento. I will be very surprised if the Kings can't manage to find a taker this summer, when his contract won't look as bad at just 2 fully guaranteed years remaining. Part of me wishes that Thompson can be part of the next great Kings team, if only to reward his patience as part of the neverending rebuilding process, but I can't blame him for not wanting to be here. In his shoes, I'm not sure I would be handling it as well as he has.