For once, all the offseason chatter involving the Kings hasn’t centered around trading Jason Thompson. Instead, the rumors focus on strained relationships within the organization.
Tuesday morning, about 13 hours before the start of free agency, Yahoo Sports reported the Kings were interested in hiring Kentucky’s John Calipari to coach and take control of the front office.
The report said Calipari had not been offered a job, and the successful college coach tweeted that his only discussions with the Kings had been about DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein, two of his former players.
Asked about the report during an appearance in Sacramento Superior Court on Tuesday, principal owner Vivek Ranadive told The Bee, “That is categorically untrue.”
This was the latest twist in an offseason of unflattering speculation and rumors surrounding the Kings and their players, who hear the chatter and often find themselves trying to make sense of it all, just like their fans.
“It’s something that I’ve been used to, unfortunately, not just being the longest tenured (player) but being the longest tenured on the front office side as well,” Thompson, entering his eighth season, said Tuesday at his basketball camp in Rocklin. “So many guys come and go when it comes to owners, coaches, GMs and the list goes on.
“It’s a shame for fans to see stuff like that. It’s tough because we all want to win, but it’s tough when things like this happen.”
Many mocked the idea of Calipari leaving one of the winningest college programs – one that annually produces numerous NBA first-round draft picks – for a pro team that hasn’t reached the playoffs the last nine seasons. The Internet also was buzzing with jokes aimed at Ranadive, who would be on his fourth head coach and third head of basketball operations in seven months if the report was true.
Last week, the Kings made national headlines when reports surfaced that they had talked to the Los Angeles Lakers about a trade involving Cousins. The All-Star center has been at odds with coach George Karl for reportedly making calls about trading him.
Thompson has been around for multiple franchise relocation sagas, played for seven coaches and seen his name attached to numerous trade rumors.
The power forward is trying to block out the talk and go about his business.
“Sometimes stuff happens,” he said. “I feel like it’s very cliché of me, but you can control what you can control. But for the most part, I’m just trying to work on my game, work on my craft and let everything else play itself out.”
Thompson sponsors different youth groups that allow children to attend the camp for free.
“We pick different groups, different years, different kids to allow them to come out and work on their games,” he said. “And the ones who do pay, it’s not going in my pocket. It’s going to my foundations and how I’ve teamed up with the American Heart Association for heart research. So it’s all for positive things or another event that I do. It’s never for to put into my pocket and try to get some Jordans.”
Thompson’s interest in heart research was spurred in 2010 when his cousin, Tiffany Carroll, died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. HCM is a common cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. Carroll, 25, was an athlete and an active young adult.
“This is definitely something where there are a lot of things buzzing around in the city but this is the positive aspect,” Thompson said. “Making kids smile, making kids better, just make sure the kids are having fun.”