Struggles and the Sacramento Kings share a long history. Jason Thompson can attest, having spent the last seven years languishing in the NBA gutter.
Since Thompson was drafted 12th overall in 2008, he’s amassed a 31.4 winning percentage. The big man has played in more regular season games (541) without a playoff appearance than any active player. Thompson has seen his offensive role decrease over time, and he’s taken orders from seven different head coaches. Despite this, the 29-year-old has retained his sanity.
“The NBA is a business, so I feel like regardless of our situations, we’re all blessed in our own type of way,” Thompson told Cowbell Kingdom in early July.
“Situations could always be worse.”
It clearly helped to have a grounded perspective. Getting paid millions of dollars also eased the pain, as well as loving the city he lived in.
But the outside hope which Thompson clung to for the past few years was a chance to be traded. While inconsistency on the floor, a hefty contract and a marginalization of bigs around the league suppressed his market value, Thompson never gave up.
In the end, his patience was answered. On July 9, the Kings shipped Thompson, Carl Landry, Nik Stauskas, a first round pick and the rights to swap picks to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for two overseas prospects.
Ironically Thompson joined a team which was even worse than the Kings in recent seasons. Still an opportunity for the New Jersey native to play close to his home town was a dream come true.
Thompson’s lucid, warm vision took a fork in the road when the 76ers flipped him to the Golden State Warriors for Gerald Wallace on Friday evening. Suddenly 90 miles from his old office, Thompson’s offseason has come literally and figuratively full circle.
With an abundance of Warriors frontcourt depth, Thompson’s days as a regular starter are likely over. But such things are trivial to the pivot at this point in his career. Now Thompson plays for the defending world champions, and he gets a taste of sustained success for the first time since roaming the Rider University lecture halls.
And as an added bonus, the NBA veteran is scheduled to return to Sleep Train Arena twice next year, where he can expect jovial ovations. Perhaps the taxing grind of seven losing seasons was all worth it in the end.
“There’s better things to come,” he noted before the trades.