Wow, didn't see this one coming
Wow, didn't see this one coming
Unlike recent wild speculation about Steve Nash trades, Jason Thompson of the Sacramento Kings has been reported to be on the trade blocks, according to two actual reporters with a known history of being reliable about such things. That's not to say he WILL be traded, but when Sam Amick (AOL Fanhouse) and Marc Stein (ESPN) both report he's being shopped, it's worth taking seriously.
You also don't have to look much past the Kings stats this season to see that Thompson, who is 24 and drafted in the same 2008 class as Robin Lopez and Goran Dragic, went from being a 30 mpg starter last year to 15 mpg bench guy this year. Last night against the Suns, he recorded his first ever DNP-CD as a pro.
According to the Sacramento Bee, Thompson has fallen behind Carl Landry and Darnell Jackson in the Kings power forward depth chart. They've tried to get him some minutes at small forward, but that's not a natural fit for the 6-11, 250 pound big man who has decent mid-range touch and can put the ball on the deck a bit, but simply does not have the skill set of a small forward. In fact, he's more likely to play center than small forward.
The Suns, of course, very much need a legit power forward and there was a time last year and even in his rookie season when JT looked like he was on track to be a very good one. It's troubling, however, to see him lose his job not only to Landry, but to Darnell Jackson.
Jackson, in case you weren't aware, was drafted 52nd in the same 2008 draft as Thompson and has done very little in his first few years in Cleveland (2008, 2009) and Milwaukee (2009). I can only imagine (but will certainly be asking Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty) that the Kings want a guy on the floor who doesn't need the ball as much as JT does. They are probably struggling enough with leadership and ball-sharing issues between Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and their wing gunners (Casspi and Garcia).
Thompson was known as a good defensive rebounder, an average defender, and a pretty good offensive player who had both inside and mid-range skills. He averaged 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in 31 minutes per game last year. His defensive rebounding rate of 20.3% compares well to Warrick (12.8%), Stoudemire (18.9%), and Robin Lopez (15.6%).
As for his defense, here's what Ziller wrote last May:
Is Jason Thompson a Good Defender? - Sactown Royalty
The Kings defense was 1.6 points per 100 possessions better with J.T. on the floor than when he was not. As the two highest-minute big men (Thompson and Hawes) rotated between the starting line-up and bench, unadjusted plus-minus is less problematic than it normally would be. That the team would be better defensive with Thompson on the floor isn't surprising. But Synergy's data lets us go deeper. So we know about J.T.'s iso defense: it was damn good this season. What about in the post, where he defended 203 plays? Opponets scored 0.9 points per possessions against J.T. there. That's about middle of the pack for the NBA. Opponents shot 47% on J.T. in the post, and he committed a shooting foul on 11% of these plays.
Offensively, Thompson is built a lot like Channing Frye, but is a bit more athletic and mobile and much more inclined to play inside out, than outside in. He's also much more of a natural roll man on the pick-and-roll, although that's hard to say for sure since he's never played with an elite (or even decent) point guard.
A four man rotation of Lopez, Frye, Warrick and Thompson would be solid and give Gentry a lot of options depending on match ups and who's playing well.
Thompson's a decent guy who I think would thrive with the opportunity to play for a good team and not the young hot mess that is Sacramento.
So what should the Suns do?
It's hard to imagine the Suns not being a better team with Jason Thompson on the roster. The problem, of course, is making room for him. Obviously, the Suns already are struggling to find minutes for the 10 guys playing now and the Kings aren't stupid, either. They know that Thompson has value on the market and are not going to just give him up for nothing.
Sorry, Earl Clark for Jason Thompson isn't happening.
The salaries, however, are fairly easy since JT is still on a rookie deal. He's owed about $2m this year and about $3m next year. He will be up for an extension next October.
The new Suns front office has zero track record for us to go on. We have no idea what they might do since there's no history to judge from. This is all uncharted waters, but you better believe somewhere in those offices they are wondering what it would take to get Thompson. They are too smart to not at least consider the options. Here's what I would think the options look like.
What do the Kings need? You have to start any trade discussion with that question. We know they have Cousins and Dalembert at center and also rookie 7-footer Hassan Whiteside. They seem to be happy with Landry and Jackson at the four, as well. At small forward, they are leaning heavily on second-year Omri Casspi and the ho-hum Francisco Garcia, who's a 2/3 combo. That's certainly a need.
Point guard is an issue, but Udrih is playing well again and, with Evans needing the ball, it would be a mistake to fill that position with too strong of a player. Look how poorly Andre Miller has fit with Brandon Roy.
They also have a need for leadership and character guys.
So, what could the Suns offer?
1) Grant Hill for Thompson. This is pretty much sacrilege to even suggest and while Hill, in theory, would be a good fit on the Kings team, it really doesn't make sense for them at this stage in their franchise's development to bring on a guy like Grant. The Suns also would risk huge backlash from the team and fans if Hill as moved, and rightly so.
2) Jared Dudley for Thompson. This is the deal that, on paper, makes the most sense for the Kings. They get a defensive three who can stretch the floor. He's a high character guy that the Kings need and, with his new extension, is locked up at a good number for awhile. I could see the Kings agreeing to this, but would you really want to see the Suns lose JD? No more JMZ. No more big hustle plays. It would be hard to swallow, but you have to give up something to get something.
3) Josh Childress for Thompson and salary filler. Josh can't be be traded until December 15th, but aside from that, are you really ready to give up a guy who is such a good fit long term? With Hill coming to the close of his career and Jason Richardson's contract expiring, JChill gives the Suns a good core player for the long term. For the Kings, he adds defensive depth and on the wing, but doesn't help spread the floor for Evans. I could see he and Evans in the back court together at times, however, and that would be pretty solid. Moving Josh creates space for Dragic to get more minutes at the backup SG, which is probably a good thing as well.
3) Earl Clark and Gani Lawal and the Suns 2011 first round pick for Jason Thompson. This would be a dream scenario for the Suns. It would create an even bigger log jam for minutes, but you wouldn't be giving up too much. Lawal has potential, but that's still a long ways off and Earl ... well, what more can be said about Earl? The Suns will pick would likely be in the 15-25 range, which has value, but is worth giving up to get JT. I don't see the Kings doing this unless they are really soured on Thompson.
I am sure people are are going to suggest Hedo for Thompson, but aside from the salaries being way off and the Kings not having any expiring contracts to fill the gap, the Suns aren't going to move him this soon. And while he might be a decent fit for the Kings, where he can play the three and give them another playmaker, it's hard to imagine them accepting that contract. Warrick for Thompson makes no sense, either. If Thompson isn't getting playing time for the Kings, why would they want Hakim (or Frye for that matter)?
The bottom line: I don't see this happening. I don't think the Suns should be (or are) in a hurry to start messing with their current roster and unless the Kings are willing to take Clark, Lawal and a pick, Thompson isn't worth giving up Dudley or Childress.
What would you do?
What a game! I don't know about you but that was just what I needed to get my weekend started. First off Captain Obvious would like to give the Sacramento Kings their due - "They are a much improved team and will definitely win some games this year". It's true - Omri Casspi is always a threat, Tyreke Evans is a stat monster, Beno Udrih is an underrated player, Landry always finds his way to the line and gets his points and they have some promise in their young rookie D. Cousins.
But who am I fooling, this was a must-win game with the gloomy week ahead and it was all about the Phoenix Suns dominating the style-war and pushing their pace and game plan on the Kings like the bully pushes the wimp in the lunch line and steals his chocolate milk. Don't make fun of my analogy.. it's nowhere near the level of ridiculousness as some of Scott Williams' broadcast bafooneries during the game. For more on that and what happened tonight, JUMP IT FOOLS!
(oh and some notes about the other starters.. maybe)
What happened in this game? STEVE NASH happened. You don't have to rely on Landon Donovan's word - Steve is crazy. He shoots better than anyone in the NBA. He passes like no one else. He has eyes in the back of his head. He REBOUNDS. He drives and doesn't care who you are. He eats big men alive with his x-over. He also eats very healthy foods. Enough, just take a look at what he did in the 1st quarter of this game. In 11 minutes he had 10 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, and ZERO turnovers.
From start to finish it was the Steve Nash show. We hear Alvin Gentry and Robert Sarver laud him as the Face-of-the-Franchise and tonight he was indeed that in more ways than one. He showed the world... okay at least the Sacramento Kings that he's still the Shiz-Nitz and can take over a game and inspire his team in typical Nash-fashion to play to their fullest potential - or at least with maximum effort.
Nash nearly finished the game with a triple-double. He ended up with 28 points, 7 rebounds, 14 assists, 1 steal, and only 2 turnovers. Let's see... he led the team in points. He led the team in rebounds. He lead the team in assists and OH he only shot 72% from the field. I'll have what he's having - or maybe I won't, I'm not a fan of green tea.
So what was it? Was he motivated by all the trade talk? Is he showcasing his skills for the plethora of teams anxiously drooling over the chance to trade for him? Was he putting up his greatest game of the season in preparation for his retirement tomorrow and entrance in to the Canadian Political realm? Was he motivated by having a brand new baby boy?Was he motivated and fresh because he had 3 days rest? You know what I think? I DON'T CARE. This is Steve Nash an this is what he does. They don't call him 2-time for nothing Chuck. The dude is Merlin of the NBA throwing magic out the back of his Uni while he dribbles and glides up and down the floor.
Oh, Hedo didn't play too well, JRich continues his hot shooting, Grant is THE MAN and is still aggresive as ever on the boards and did a great job defending Tyreke Evans. We'll get to RoLo later. Moving on ->
Only the 2nd time they've scored 30 points in the first quarter this season, the other was last week in the win against the then undefeated Atlanta Hawks.
So we know gang rebounding works, and maybe the bigs were doing a good job keeping the Kings bigs away while the little guys got the boards... but was that why between Lopez, Hedo, and Frye we got an amazing.. 9 rebounds? I don't think that was the game plan. Bottom line - we need to get better, and that sounds like a broken record but it's the truth.
Overall the Suns were out-rebounded 50 to 42.. and 21 to 13 in OFFENSIVE REBOUNDS. Gentry commented after the game that THAT was the biggest concern. We can't continue to give teams 2, 3, and often 4 chances on one trip down the floor to score. We were lucky the Kings couldn't capitalize on all their Offensive Rebs... the 4 teams we play this upcoming week undoubtedly will - so hold on to your hats.
Robin Lopez - To start the game Robin looked smooth, concentrated and had some good offensive plays. But 1 rebound in the first half and 3 by the games end, and because he stayed out of foul trouble - he actually played. As we all know Robin likes to play vollyball on the glass... for whatever reason he continues to just bat the ball around even when he has sure position to reach up and pull the ball down. DO IT. DO IT NOW. I don't know if it's mental or what - maybe somebody like Seth with inside info on his practices can explain what the game plan is for Robin to improve his rebounding - but it was terrible tonight. Thank goodness for Nash, JRich and our 47 Small forwards because without their rebounding efforst we would have been emaciated completely on the glass.
Note on his (RoLo) Fouls: 1st foul came halfway through the 3rd quarter! WTF!? That's awesome, and guess what - the foul wasn't even a foul, it was a phantom call on a clear and clean block he had on Carl Landry in the paint.
Channing Frye - lately Channing has been doing an okay job on the glass but tonight he was kind of disappointing, with only 2 rbs.. I'm not going to beat a dead horse. More on Frye's overall game in a sec.
Hedo Turkoglu - Mediocre game for Hedo - he had some iffy fouls but did show some life with 2 assists and hitting some tough clutch-like fade-aways at big moments in the first half... he had 4 rebounds, and I don't know whether to be excited he had that many or disappointed so I'm just going to let that hang.
Moving on ->
Coming into the game we talked about how both teams were struggling because of turnover woes, and if you remember correctly Captain Obvious accurately deduced that whoever executed their offense better and committed less turnovers would most definitely win this game. Man does that dude know what he's talking about. Both teams actually drastically reduced the amount of turnovers they had been averaging and finished with 11 on both sides of the boxscore. But obviously the Suns imposed their will and executed their offense and thus won the game. The Suns shot 51.9% from the field and destroyed the paint - the Kings only shot 40.9% and looked lost at times. bla bla that's boring. Moving on ->
Scott Williams' Bafoonery at its finest. Oh could Wil's Cantrellian play-by-play post have come at a better time? Scotty needs to lay off the spoonfuls of peanut butter while he broadcasts :) I mean I've met the dude and he's a great guy but his slurpy speech and down right weird broadcast imagery definitely makes me roll my eyes and want to puke in my mouth... just a little bit. Anywho - he called Kings rook DeMarcus Cousins an "alligator in a tank-top" - LAME. I would just say the fool is a P, I, to the muthableepin' MP. Yeah yeah - he fouled out and he had some rookie mental errors and shows some interesting passion, but he's got moves, long arms, mobility, and strong physical presence. Needless to say if you weren't impressed by his showing today you might have been tuned into the wrong channel. I hope this kid continues to hone his skills at the pace he is with the Westphal and the Kings - you can't ever have enough fun players to watch in the NBA!
Moving on -> now for the good stuff!
Our bench continues to produce and has consistently all-season proven that they deserve the minutes they get (and maybe should get more at times) and tonight was no different. Though they kind of came out slow in the 2nd period they started to gel and put in a good days work tonight.
Goran Dragic = THE ALLSPARK. This kid has absolutely killed it so far all season and he didn't slow down at all tonight. He only played 13 minutes and though he didn't shoot the greatest he still put up 7 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist ( a highlight behind the back fastbreak for a JChill AND1 at that), and he led the team with 4 steals. Typical Dragon sighting tonight, he came in he was aggressive, he sparked the bench, he produced highlights and played a good game even when Nash was pressing to get back in the game (which he did, 2 minutes early in the 4th) he stayed relaxed and did what was needed.
Hakim Warrick - He's more comfortable all the time rolling, you can see his confidence grow with every game and this is A GREAT thing for Phoenix fans who were extremely worried about who would fill STAT's inside presense-shoes. Get this - COMING OFF THE BENCH Hakim is close to the #1 spot in the NBA for DUNKS. He goes hard to the hoop and I mean WHAM BAM SLAMMO TIME. I Continue to be surprised by Warrick's post game because it seems like he's showing a different move every night, also his energy and movement is something I can't quite put my finger on.. I want to say 'youthful' or 'active' but those sound weird and don't really express what I was feeling as I watched the game tonight - I'm comparing his activity to Stoudemire's who at times appeared lumbering and pacified. Warrick had a great game and was the bulk scoring effort for the Suns bench tonight with 18.
Channing Frye - Channing started the game well by going to the rim AND hitting a 3, it has seemed like lately he hasn't been able to get both those facets of his game clicking at the same time. He flattened out as the game went on but did hit some critical shots in the 4th to keep the offense flowing. One thing he is doing that I noticed is that he is communicating very well on D - at one point during the game I could hear him telling at at Josh Childress telling him "I'm here, I'm here, I'm here!" so as to let him know he was in position along the bottom of the key if Josh's man were to drive baseline. That's great and all but Channing isn't showing the kind of confidence that he needs in his shot and he wasn't hitting the glass as well as he had in earlier games this season.
Josh Childress - man, this guy is so strong and fast for his size. I'm continually impressed with how fast he is jumping off the floor, driving off the dribble and in the post... or slashing, or running the fast break OR WHATEVER! Dude is a great asset to this team with his AND 1 power (helping fill the void left by STAT) and his fro bringing unprecedented amounts of uber-mojo to the floor every time he's out there. LOVE IT.
Jared Dudley - he had an off night and didn't hit a shot. I'm not worried. It happens.
All in all I am more and more confident in our team. This bench unit is very balanced and I like the variety they throw out every night, they are not always settling for outside jumpers. With guys like Warrick and JChill (and Dragic) there is a better balance of cuts, slashes, hard drives, and jumpers. Good basketball my friends.
To end this boring recap (sorry I'm not putting any pics in unless someone can find some good ones, so it's kind of dull) I'll open this up for some interesting discussion - A question was brought up by Tom Chambers and that other dude on the half-time show, do we have the best point guard combo in the NBA right now? What say ye? Who is better and why!?
Thanks for reading - and p.s. - If you eat your McRib with pickles on it... you're disgusting.
Eutychus - out.
[Note by Seth Pollack, 11/12/10 10:17 PM MST ]
Imma let you finish but I just have to add a few words here to this great recap from Eut.
First off, this wasn't a pretty game. The Suns offense was pretty bleh except for Nash who couldn't miss. Early in the game they sagged off him and defended the pick and roll with Beno "No Defense" Udrih only which was just an invitation for Steve to shoot. Once you saw him make a few of those early buckets in the lane you knew it was game on for him.
By the time they adjusted their defense in the second half it was too late. Steve had their number. The rest of the Suns however, didn't do all that much unless Steve created it and served it up on a silver platter. Oh well.
The Kings however, were horrific. They are apparently going threw all kinds of internal issues and strife and they certainly played like it. No energy or effort and yet, here's what Paul Westphal had to say about the game.
"I can't really find a whole lot of fault with our team effort...We missed too much but that's not an effort thing, that's basketball."
I don't know if that's in comparison to other Kings games which have been worse or if he's just trying to avoid more trouble with his already troubled young team but that was not what I would call a good effort. Oh well, their problem, not ours.
Nash bugged out early so no post game quotes from tonight's hero. Hill did his best Nash impression saying, "I played well, eh".
All in all, this was a pretty forgettable game which is fine. A loss would have been hard to swallow but this really should have been a blow out and would have been if anyone other than Nash had shot the ball well.
Audio: Gentry postgame 111210