In recent seasons, being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers was no reason to celebrate unless you were happy to be a part of team doing its best to win the NBA Draft Lottery instead of basketball games.
Jason Thompson, however, is optimistic about the future.
The Kings agreed to trade Thompson along with Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry and a top-10 protected first-round pick to the Sixers for a future second-round pick and the draft rights to Arturas Gudaitis (47th pick in 2015) and Luka Mitrovic (60th pick in 2015).
Thompson spent seven seasons with the Kings after being a first-round pick in 2008. But he also endured a lot of chaos during that time. So for someone who grew up in South New Jersey and rooted for the Sixers, this isn’t the worst destination.
“It’s leaving an organization where you’ve been there for seven years with so many headlines of distractions off the court have happened,” Thompson said. “But when you find out the team you’re going to is the team you watched as a kid, all these different stories come up and you get like 100 texts every two minutes.”
Thompson has been the topic of trade rumors for most of his time in Sacramento. Thompson was so accustomed to trade rumors that when interim general manager Mike Bratz called him about the deal, he didn’t believe it was true.
Thompson also didn’t believe was traded so close to home.
“When (Bratz) told me the team, it was surreal,” Thompson said. “I thought he was playing around just to get a reaction. Before it was just words now it’s reality.”
Thompson leaves as the all-time leader in games played during the Sacramento era with 541. He never got close to making the playoffs with the Kings but said he cherishes the friendships formed in Sacramento.
“To say rebuilding while I’ve been there is an understatement,” Thompson said. “To have seven different coaches, and over 190 teammates, the list goes on.”
The team brought in several players to replace Thompson during his stay. Thompson always beat them out for playing time.
“All the different situations with me and Spence (Hawes) being the future, and before that Brad (Miller) was here and Mikki (Moore) was here. Sammy (Dalembert), they draft T-Rob (Thomas Robinson), they have Pat (Patterson), Carl (Landry had) been here twice, and J.J. Hickson. You look at it them and those guys have had success in other organizations, and no offense but it’s got to be something (within the Kings’ organization) why guys don’t develop like that.”
So Thompson should be ready for what awaits in Philadelphia. The team has used first-round picks on post players the past three years, including Duke center Jahlil Okafor last week.
Thompson, however, is eager for a fresh start.
“You don’t ever know the situation,” he said. “... I’ll know in the next couple days, we’ll know the situation, we’ll know what’s going on in the future. Everything is going to work out for itself.”