Although the Sacramento Kings’ offseason isn’t technically over, with a roster that now sits at 14 players (of the possible max, 15), one could assume there will be little movement from a free agent standpoint. If the Kings do deem it worthy to fill their final roster spot, it’ll most likely be via a trade or a young training camp invitee who fills out the 15th spot. So with that said, we’ll start to breakdown the Kings’ offseason moves here in the next few days, starting with their re-signing of big man Jason Thompson.
The four year veteran who’ll be entering his fifth NBA season this year was an offseason priority for the normally quiet Kings front office, who breaking their traditional silence made it very clear they wanted Thompson back – and who could blame them? The former Rider product, who has improved every year, played the best ball of his young career last season and has proven himself to be one of the better rotational big men in the league. Despite the high level play and their professed desires for a Thompson return, the Kings weren’t taking any chances, moonlighting with then Orlando Magic forward and Sacramento native Ryan Anderson in the rare case an outside team offered Thompson an un-matchable contract. Thankfully for the Kings, that didn’t happen.
It took a while to finalize, most likely because Thompson was waiting for a heftier outside offer to earn a larger annual salary, but the Kings and Thompson finally agreed on a 5 year, $30 million dollar contract that will keep the big man in purple and black through the 2016-2017 season (the final year is only partially guaranteed). From a financial standpoint, it’s difficult to find fault in the deal, especially given the current market. Consider some of these contracts given out so far this offseason:
- Nets sign Brook Lopez to 4 year, $61 million dollar deal
- Mavericks sign Chris Kaman for 1 year, $8 million dollar deal
- Nuggets sign JaVale McGee to 4 year, $44 million dollar deal
- Rockets signed Omer Asik to 3 year, $24 million dollar deal
- Pacers matched Portland’s offer sheet of 4 years, $58 million to Roy Hibbert
- Pacers signed Ian Mahinmi to a 4 year, $16 million dollar deal
- Lakers sign Jordan Hill to a 2 year, $8 million dollar deal
- Hornets sign Ryan Anderson to 4 year, $34 million
- Spurs re-sign Tim Duncan to a 3 year, $36 million dollar deal
For a 26 year old (just 26, by the way) big man who could potentially average a near double-double off the bench, you could find much worse to gripe about than a $5-6 million dollar annual salary. I might not go as far as to say it’s “team-friendly” but it’s bordering on the line and it’s certainly fair given the production Thompson brings.
From an on-court perspective, Thompson is in a way a luxury – but now an affordable one which will continue to solidify the Kings’ front court. Personally, I’ve always felt Thompson to be a better center than power forward. That’s not to say JT can’t play PF in the NBA effectively, but he’s better suited to play center. Career numbers across the board are better (think effective) when Thompson plays the five (although he’s averaged more playing time per game at C), especially in the foul department where JT averages a half foul less (2.9, 3.4 as PF) per game despite playing nearly five more minutes a contest. His sometimes slower feet/reactions can hamper him against smaller or quicker opponents at the four, but his slower tendencies against opposing fours become advantages against most fives where the tables are turned and he now is the quicker, faster reacting player.
The addition of Thomas Robinson who’ll mainly play the four will only lead to more time at center for Thompson, who will split time between power forward and backing up Cousins at the five which is a near perfect scenario for JT.
Overall, both the Kings and Thompson have to be happy with how this offseason played out. The Kings were able to re-sign their effective big for a very fair price, deepening their roster and keeping their current core of big men intact while Thompson gets financial security and a role with 25-30 minutes nightly. It’s not a homerun by any stretch of the imagination (which is where a higher grade would be), but it’s a solid move that will only help the Kings improve.