For 22 days, Jason Thompson was as excited as he had ever been about an upcoming basketball season. After spending the first seven years of his career playing for the often dysfunctional Sacramento Kings, Thompson was headed home.
Born in Camden, New Jersey, and an alum of Lenape High in Burlington County and Rider University, Thompson joined the team he grew up rooting for in the trade that landed the Sixers Carl Landry and Nik Stauskas.
After the initital shock of being traded, to Philadelphia no less, Thompson got right to work. He says he reported to the team’s practice facility at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine for workouts with his new teammates.
He was in regular contact with coach Brett Brown as he began preparing for the 2015-16 season.
“I was coming in every day and had a great relationship with [Sixers assistant coach] Billy Lange, because his father was my high school coach,” Thompson said.
Then he got another phone call.
“I was more shocked to be traded from Sacramento to Philly and then to never have been traded in seven years to being traded twice in the same month was a little different,” Thompson said. “But it came out pretty good.”
Indeed it did. Thompson was sent to a team on pace to put together the most wins in NBA regular-season history with the Warriors. Not only that, Thompson is a contributor with the 43-4 Warriors, averaging a modest 2.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 6.9 minutes per game. Against the Sixers on Saturday, Thompson got a rebound, an assist and a basket in 11 minutes (see game story). He was matched up on Jahlil Okafor while big men Andrew Bogut and Marreese Speights took a breather on the bench.
“Everything happens for a reason and this came out pretty good,” Thompson said. “It’s definitely a great situation with a bunch of great guys. I’m learning about a winning atmosphere with a team coming off a championship and I’m learning the ropes a little bit. I’m enjoying the ride.”
Chances are Thompson could see an uptick in playing time over the next few weeks, too. With big man Festus Ezeli out with an injured knee, those minutes will fall to Thompson.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr says those minutes will be well-earned.
“It’s not based on sentimentality, but based on hard numbers with Festus out,” Kerr said. “[Thompson has a] great attitude and he can move. He’s been a starter in this league for a long time so for him to come in and accept his role the way he has, he’s a first-class teammate. Hopefully he’ll get his chance here before too long.”
In the meantime, Thompson is enjoying his only trip back to Philly this season, where he left approximately 90 tickets for family and friends.