3 of The Most Infamous Kings in Sacramento’s History
The Sacramento Kings are almost a week away from the 2022 NBA draft where they’ll potentially select an elite-level prospect with the fourth overall pick. This year’s draft also marks the second time the Kings have moved up in the draft lottery in the last five years, jumping from seventh to fourth. The 2018 draft was the first time, again moving from the seventh spot to the second overall in a highly-touted draft class. Of course we all know how that went, with the Sacramento team infamously passing on future All-NBA guard Luka Dončić for Duke big man Marvin Bagley, a move I condemn the Kings for every day of their existence.
Nevertheless, it got me thinking: “What other Kings players live on as infamous roster choices over the years?” Well, here we are. Take a look at three of the most infamous players to don the Purple & Grey since 2006, the last time Sacramento made the playoffs.
Tenure: One Season (2015-2016)
Rajon Rondo is probably the most talented player on this list but his infamous case lives on thanks to his one year pitstop with the Kings. The former Boston Celtics All-Star signed with Sacramento in the 2015 offseason on a one-year, 9.5-million-dollar deal to play alongside Darren Collision and throw lobs to Demarcus Cousins. Rondo quickly established himself as the Kings facilitator, averaging 11.9 PPG and 11.7 APG in his lone season in Sacramento, becoming a cult hero in many fan circles.
Former general manager Vlade Divac and the Kings had expressed interest in keeping Rondo with the team (or at least stating so in a Q&A with fans that my dad and I attended), the journeyman guard ultimately chose to join the Chicago Bulls for a one-year deal worth $14 million. He then went on to play for a variety of teams across the league, never finding permanent home in the league.
Regardless, the acquisition of a former title winner was a fun and useful addition for the Kings, serving up countless assists to his teammates over the course of the 2015-2016 season. I wish he stayed around longer if I’m being totally honest, but that’s the life of a Kings fan.
Tenure: Seven Seasons (2008-2015)
A fan favorite in Sacramento, Jason Thompson lands on this list simply because he’s one of the longest tenured Kings in recent history, spending seven years in the Purple & Grey. The Rider University power forward was drafted 12th overall in the 2008 draft by the Kings, becoming a staple in the rotation for the early Cousins years.
Over those seven years in town, Thompson averaged a modest 9.4 PPG and 6.9 RPG, only averaging more than ten points in three of the seven seasons in Sacramento. His best career game with the Kings came in his final season, scoring 23 points and 22 rebounds against the LA Clippers on January 17th, 2015.
Since his departure, Thompson has been a bit of a journeyman in the basketball world, spending some time with the Warriors and Toronto Raptors before going overseas to play in China, Spain and Turkey. He last played for the Wisconsin Herd in the G League this past season.
Although Thompson isn’t a regular NBA player anymore, he provided Kings fans and players with many memorable moments, including his car being filled with popcorn for not performing his rookie duties in 2008.
Tenure: Didn’t Play (2014)
Former sixth man of the year Jason Terry has gone down as one of the most infamous (frankly hated) players in Sacramento, without ever suiting up for the team. Terry was acquired by the Kings at the 2014 trade deadline, along with Reggie Evans from the Brooklyn Nets for Marcus Thornton.
Terry was a good player in his heyday but struck a nerve with the Sacramento fanbase after refusing to suit up for the Kings, instead choosing to rehab a knee injury in Dallas. He then went on to criticize the team and several players during an offseason radio interview, commenting on Cousins “shaky” attitude.
“I wouldn’t say it’s rebuilding, but a building process,” Terry said. “DeMarcus Cousins, a huge talent. Attitude, a little shaky. Rudy Gay, not a proven winner in this league but a tremendous talent and a guy you can build around.
“They’re in transition right now. For me, at this point in my career, I want championships.”
Low and behold the 36-year-old veteran was right about the Kings tandem but the comments were incredibly backhanded at a time when Sacramento was desperate for a playoff appearance, making it that much worse. Terry was ultimately moved to the Houston Rockets for additional cap space but Kings fan didn’t forget, giving him an earful when the Rockets visited the Kings in 2015.
There are certainly more players that belong on this list (Jimmer Fredette and Spencer Hawes come to mind), but these days it feels like we can add a player each year the Kings don’t make the playoffs.
Here’s to hoping Monte McNair and the front office nail next week’s picks to end the longest playoff drought in NBA history.