Jason Thompson was back as a member of the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night at Sleep Train Arena, where the forward spent the first seven seasons of his NBA career playing for the Kings.
“I always thought it would happen,” Thompson said of returning in another uniform. “You just don’t ever know when it’s going to happen.”
Often the subject of trade speculation in Sacramento, Thompson finally got dealt this summer – twice. In early July, the Kings agreed to trade him along with Carl Landry and Nick Stauskas to the Philadelphia 76ers, sending Thompson to his hometown team. Later that month, the 76ers traded Thompson to Golden State for forward Gerald Wallace.
When the dust settled, Thompson found himself back in Northern California as a member of the defending NBA champions.
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“Going from not being traded to going to my hometown team and then to the defending champs, all in one month, was a surreal feeling,” Thompson said before Saturday’s game. “But everything happens for a reason and I’m just trying to make the best of it.”
Thompson has found playing time limited to start the season. Entering Saturday, he had appeared in just three of Golden State’s first six games, totaling eight points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes.
“There’s a formula they have,” Thompson said. “I think I’m going to be in the rotation with more time, but I’m kind of just learning the system, offensively and defensively. Being on one team for so long, you’re not used to change.”
Thompson checked into Saturday’s game in the first quarter and received a round of applause. A first-round pick by the Kings in 2008, Thompson is the franchise’s Sacramento-era leader in games played (541). Statistically his best season came in 2009-10, when he averaged 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
Thompson’s Sacramento tenure was marked by turnover both on the roster and coaching staff – he repeatedly had to compete for playing time with other forwards brought in by the Kings – and he referenced the turmoil in an October interview with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, saying of joining the Warriors: “It’s kind of night and day with the difference.”
“For me it was just a thing of (the Warriors) being established,” Thompson said Saturday. “Every organization has its ups and downs. I was there (in Sacramento) when we had ups and downs, uncertainty of being there and everything. So that’s the only difference.
“I went to a team that had just won (the NBA championship). So you have establishment from the ownership all the way down. When I said ‘night and day,’ I just meant that there wasn’t uncertainty of positions, there wasn’t uncertainty of the front office, and everyone got along.”
Et cetera – The Kings were without center DeMarcus Cousins (right Achilles’ strain) for a fourth consecutive game. Guard Darren Collison (left hamstring strain) was also inactive.
Coach George Karl used his sixth different starting lineup in seven games, giving forward Quincy Acy his first start of the season. Karl said he is still “trying to find a good combination” for his starting lineup.
“Probably more than anything, it’s trying to find a good start,” Karl said. “Our starts in the first and third quarters have been very ordinary at best.”
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