Klay Thompson

Klay implies Warriors breakup necessary, as he was ready for change

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Klay Thompson finally spoke Tuesday about his surprising Warriors departure.

At his Dallas Mavericks introductory press conference, sitting alongside fellow free-agent signees Naji Marshall and Quentin Grimes, Thompson provided honest answers about his mindset during a turbulent 2023-24 NBA season and why he feels good about leaving the Warriors, the only NBA team he had ever known.

"Whether you play basketball or work in the corporate world or wherever, whatever industry, sometimes change just can spur greatness and a new change of scenery can do wonders," Thompson told reporters at American Airlines Center in Dallas. "I'm very grateful for my time at Golden State, but I just felt like moving on could just re-energize me and do something special for the rest of my career."

After spending his first 13 NBA seasons with the Warriors, Thompson opted to sign a three-year, $50 million contract with the Mavericks, joining forces with All-Stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

Tense contract negotiations between Thompson and the Warriors over the last year are well-documented, and when push came to shove, the five-time All-Star decided it was best to move on rather than return to a franchise that wasn't prioritizing him.

"Probably a little disappointed at first, but then as time goes on, you have a lot of time to reflect and you realize what you did, they can't take that away from you as far as the championships," Thompson said. "I mean, records are meant to be broken, but the impact you have on the community and all that that will forever live. Sometimes, breakups are necessary to do what's right."

The 2023-24 season didn't go as planed for Thompson or the Warriors, with coach Steve Kerr eventually moving the longtime shooting guard to the bench in favor of rookie Brandin Podziemski.

For someone as proud as Thompson is, a reduced role was hard to swallow.

"There was times last year it was really tough," Thompson said. "Everyone expects you to be that All-NBA player and sometimes it's hard to consistently do that. That's why there's only 15 slots on that team and coming here is just such a fresh start and feeling just wanted again and I bring great value.

"It just gets me excited to go out there and even work out after this press conference and get shots up. Yeah, there were times last year, it was tough where it wasn't as joyful as it had it been in the past. And, it's nice to kind of shed that and have a whole new, fresh start, a whole new group of guys you get to know and coworkers. A whole new city. It's really cool and I'm going embrace the heck out of this opportunity."

Thompson leaving Steph Curry, Draymond Green and the Warriors has been hard for Dub Nation to absorb, but he reminded everyone that he's not the first player to leave a team after a long, prosperous run.

The 34-year-old Thompson, who spent more than a decade of his childhood growing up in the Portland area, citied a specific example of an all-time great NBA player leaving a team he won championships with.

"I'm not the first athlete in the NBA to go through this," Thompson. "I did grow up in Portland and I remember when Scottie Pippen came to the Blazers, that was like the biggest day of my life. And I'm not saying I'm Scottie, but they were right there against the [Los Angeles] Lakers almost won the chip. So I take a lot of inspiration from past athletes and how their careers might have gone astray when they either left the team or joined a new team. And some guys thrive. And I look forward to just kind of being rejuvenated here and playing a lot of good basketball left in the tank."

While Thompson's dad Mychal wanted his son to join the Los Angeles Lakers, Klay picked the Mavericks because of what he saw this past season. Plus, he said he wanted to leave the West Coast, where he had spent his entire basketball career, dating back to his high school and college days.

"Dallas was so attractive because of the young players they have, the style of play, the world class treatment these players get from this organization and just a beautiful city who loves their hoops," Thompson said.

"So when I was watching the playoffs and watching the Mavs make a run for the championship, I just saw myself fitting in really well with this team and the personnel and they look like they have fun playing with each other and they play for each other and that was very attractive for me. And that's really all I needed to see and there's mutual interest there and that's why I'm here."

Curry, Green and Dub Nation hoped Thompson would play his entire Hall of Fame career with the Warriors, but that won't happen.

For Thompson, this is the change he needed at this point in his NBA career and personal life.

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