RANCHO CORDOVA, CA - It's hard for Jason Thompson to even believe, but he will enter his sixth season NBA season, as the longest-tenured player on the Sacramento Kings.
When asked just how many head coaches he's played for since being drafted by the team in 2008, the 27-year-old Thompson rattled the names off.
"Reggie Theus, Kenny Natt, Paul Westphal, Keith Smart, Mike Malone - do the math," said Thompson, who followed his list up with a wink.
Thompson met with News10 at his first Sacramento area youth basketball camp on Wednesday and spoke at length about his role on the team as the new season approaches. Once again, he finds himself once again having to impress his fifth head coach in Michael Malone, and battle for playing time.
The 6-foot-11 Thompson will compete against Carl Landry, who was signed as a free agent and Patrick Patterson, was acquired last season in a trade with the Houston Rockets. Chuck Hayes, an undersized center has also been given playing time in the past as a power forward.
This competition exists just one year after Thompson signed a five-year contract after already playing next to Landry in the past, as well as having beat out guys like J.J. Hickson and Thomas Robinson.
"Depth is always good," Thompson said. "When you're a guy that, you think you deserve a certain amount of minutes, the it gets interesting.
"To know I've lasted through all of those times, makes you feel good and I'm ready for every challenge."
DeMarcus Cousins is entering his fourth season in Sacramento and has been the team's center during that stretch. During his recent minicamp with Team USA Basketball in Las Vegas, he said he loves playing with Thompson, but then added a caveat, saying he felt his natural position was at power forward and that he felt the team needed a defensive, shot blocking presence.
Thompson, who has been utilized many times as a center himself, said very coyly that he'd love a shot blocking center too.
While position battles will soon be figured out once the team opens training camp in October, Thompson also realizes the team may look different by then, with almost two months left in the offseason.
Meanwhile, he is able to lend his basketball expertise to his Jason Thompson Elite Basketball Camp, which takes place until Friday at the Rancho Cordova Event Center. A camp for boys and girls grades 3-12 that is more than just hoops.
Thompson's foundation has partnered with organizations to teach the importance of nutrition and a heart healthy lifestyle.
Thompson learned first hand the importance of awareness of heart disease after his cousin, Tiffany Carroll, died in 2010 at the age of 25. The cause was hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is the leading cause of cardiac death in young athletes.
During the camps, the kids are even served healthy lunches, rather than typical pizza or hot dogs and burgers.
Close to 300 kids are taking part in the four-day camp, over 100 of them are under privileged youth who have been individually sponsored by Thompson's Foundation that come from four area group homes.
By Sean Cunningham, SCunningham@News10.net