For Jason Thompson, the NBA offseason means more of the usual trade speculation.
He’s actually accustomed to it.
The latest rumor came before last Thursday’s NBA draft. It had Thompson headed to Detroit as part of a deal for forward Josh Smith.
Still, all the speculation hasn’t stopped Thompson from spending time in the Sacramento area during the summer.
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For the second consecutive year, Thompson’s JT Elite Basketball Camp is hosting 300 youngsters, ages 6 to 18 at Hardwood Palace in Rocklin.
“Trade talk happens before the draft,” Thompson said at his camp Tuesday morning. “But I’m a man, I’m true to my word and regardless of what happens I still want to keep it out here. I still have a lot of support.”
Thompson, 27, is the longest-tenured King as he prepares to enter his seventh season, which also means he’s been mired in Sacramento’s losing ways more than his teammates. His contract has three years and more than $19 million left, and Thompson understands he will be involved in trade talk.
The Kings want to shake up the roster, and dealing Thompson’s contract would provide future financial flexibility.
The contract was signed under previous ownership and the front office that drafted Thompson. Of the holdovers from the previous regime, only DeMarcus Cousins appears certain to be a part of the future.
“I’m eager to see what’s going to happen in the upcoming season with the team,” Thompson said. “And I’ve said over the years and I’m sure so have other players, you can control what you can control. I think only a select few – I wouldn’t say the word safe – but you never know what’s going to happen with the team and who’s going to be wearing what jersey.”
Thompson remains a King even as there have been attempts to trade him and several players brought in to play ahead of him at power forward.
Thompson fell out of the starting lineup twice last season. He began it coming off the bench behind Patrick Patterson. But Patterson struggled before being traded to Toronto and Thompson was back in lineup. Thompson was later benched in favor of Reggie Evans, who came to the Kings in February in a trade with Brooklyn.
Thompson said he doesn’t ask general manager Pete D’Alessandro about potential trades and where he fits in the Kings’ plans.
“You just control what you can control,” Thompson said. “All I can do is worry about what I can do ... my job and Pete and everyone else do theirs.”
Thompson said the Sacramento community is “family,” and “regardless of what happens in the future I’ll always have my heart here.”
Even if a deal changes his plans, Thompson is preparing for the season as a King. Thompson said he is eating healthier, which has him looking in good shape.
Thompson averaged 7.1 points and 6.4 rebounds last season, both below his career averages of 9.9 points and seven rebounds.
He did not publicly complain about his role being in flux but admitted the season was not easy.
Thompson would like to start having fun on the court again.
“There were a lot of times where I wasn’t happy about certain things and not enjoying it,” Thompson said. “I think when you first get to the league you’re enjoying it and just happy to be there. But once you establish yourself, you want to win, you want to be successful, and when stuff like that is taken away from you, at times it’s frustrating. That’s the most important thing, having fun.”