LaSalle Thompson, former Kings player

PHOTO by shoka

When LaSalle Thompson got fired just over a year ago as an assistant coach of the New York Knicks, he did what a lot of Sacramentans will do at some point: He came back. The former Kings center and power forward moved with the team from Kansas City to Sacramento in 1985 and has lived in the capital city off and on ever since. At different times an NBA assistant coach and real estate salesman in recent years, Thompson's now preparing for his latest venture: opening a textiles recycling business in Del Paso Heights. If all goes well, the company will open in September. He took some time to talk about his new textile venture, Kings trade rumors and playing in the old arena back when it was new.

You played for the Kings when they built Arco Arena. What do you remember having a new arena built?

I was with the Kings in Kansas City. When they moved the team here, they didn't have [permission] from the league to move yet. They started building that arena before the league gave them approval. I think they knew they were going to get the approval, but when we first came here, they really literally just built a warehouse. When you went inside, there was nothing in there, just a big box. They wouldn't let anybody in it, because they knew what they were doing. When we got here, when I saw it, I don't think they had started building the bleachers yet. It was just a shell. They started slowly filling it in. It was all wooden 'cause they knew at some point, they were going to build a bigger arena and that was going to convert into something else, to a big office building, which it is now. Because it was wooden, I just remember even though it only held 10,000 people, the fans would start stomping … and it was just this thunderous noise, just loud.

The Kings have had some upheaval in their assistant coaching staff. Have you inquired with the team at all about any sort of coaching or scouting?

I've talked to 'em a little bit, let 'em know I was interested. But see, I don't know George [Karl]. I know him just from playing against his teams, saying hi to him, but he doesn't know me. I would imagine he's probably going to hire guys that he knows, and I would imagine that he's going to keep some of the guys that are on the staff right now. I think he likes some of them. I know [assistant coach] Corliss Williamson, he has a great relationship with DeMarcus Cousins. I wouldn't be surprised if they keep him. He's a good guy, too.

Do you see yourself coaching again in the future?

Yeah, probably. I think I like it too much not to do it again. Right now, I'm trying to stay here in town, so my biggest option would be to try to get with the Kings. I think right now, I'm kind of focused on the recycling business and getting that started. There's a solar company I do some work with, as kind of a consultant thing. You know, I got two or three things on the side I do, but my main focus is the recycling business, getting into that.

What does recycling work entail?

You pick someone, like, let's say Goodwill for instance. You drop all your clothes off at Goodwill and they sort through 'em and they say some of them they're gonna sell, they'll put on their racks for sale. Everything else they throw in the garbage. What's happening in this country is 85 percent of all recyclable clothes are thrown in the landfill. So our feedstock, the way we're looking at our business, our feedstock is that 85 percent that goes in the landfills: clothes that people throw out, old linens that people throw out, sheets, towels, that kind of stuff.

What do you do once you get the fabric?

Cotton, you can recycle and you can resell it to cotton manufacturers and clothing manufacturers. It basically is raw cotton again. With a lot of the blend stuff, you can make insulation out of it, home insulation, or I should say building insulation. You can make particle board out of it. You can do fiber, which is used in concrete and asphalt reinforcement. And you can make thread. I think a lot of the thread that's used in clothing now is recycled material. We started investigating thread. Some of these companies told us, “We'll buy as much thread as you can produce.”

Back to the Kings. I know George Karl had talked a little this year about running DeMarcus Cousins at power forward instead of center. You told me earlier that he should stay a center.

I just think DeMarcus, he's kind of a throwback. He's an old school, low-post center. But he's got the versatility that you can play him at the high post, which I would imagine Karl will do that some. I just think the biggest advantage with him is to put him low.

What do you think of the possibility of DeMarcus Cousins being traded?

Just based on what I'm reading in the newspaper, if they don't get rid of one of them, him or Karl, there's going to be problems.

Do you think the Kings are at the point that one of them has to go?

Nah. We in the summer, so why would we have to decide now that one of them has to go? In December or January, we might be at that point, but that's six months from now.