Klay Thompson

Report: Lacob led Warriors' ‘cold' negotiations with Klay

NBC Universal, Inc.

Warriors owner Joe Lacob reportedly played a major role in the team’s inability to meet eye-to-eye with Klay Thompson during contract negotiations.

The Athletic's Anthony Slater reported Tuesday that Lacob intentionally having poor communication resulted in an interesting and unsuccessful game with Thompson, adding to a string of questionable approaches in recent seasons that cost the Warriors two home-grown stars (Jordan Poole and Thompson) in exchange for virtually nothing but heartache.

Thompson, rightfully so, wanted respect and effort from Lacob and the Warriors after all the team had accomplished during their partnership. Slater further explained why the Thompson era in Golden State ended sourly in an article published on Tuesday.

“The substantial relationship fracturing that led to this split points the microscope at upper management,” Slater said. “Controlling owner Joe Lacob led a front-office effort to take a cold, mostly uncommunicative approach to Thompson’s next contract in his three summers of extension eligibility, team sources said, which isn’t separate from their norm. 

“Lacob has done similar in the past with [Steph] Curry, [Steve] Kerr, Bob Myers, Andre Iguodala and [Draymond] Green, using dwindling time as a weapon but ultimately paying up (he put a substantial offer on the table for Myers) after a staring contest.

Waiting game, staring contest, freeze tag -- whatever Lacob tried to pull off again, this time on Thompson, didn’t work.

The Warriors found success waiting for Curry, Kerr, Iguodala and Green to sign extensions that worked for all parties. However, Golden State didn’t anticipate Thompson’s freestyle approach that valued momentary emotions and respect over corporate knowledge that Green and Iguodala, for example, carried into their negotiations.

Thompson simply marches to the beat of his own drum. And he wasn’t feeling the Warriors’ intentional quietness.

“Iguodala’s (in 2017) and Green’s (in 2023) are the two parallel situations that have popped up most in conversation about the split with Thompson that blindsided some Warriors executives in recent weeks,” Slater said. “Iguodala and Green, both sharp and versed in the corporate world, used leverage to exact a better deal from the Warriors. Iguodala took his decision deep into free agency.

“Thompson operates on his own wavelength. The Warriors’ decision-makers were warned that a drawn-out negotiation into July during this free-agent cycle wouldn’t be met the same way. He wasn’t trying to leverage his way back until the bitter end. After a bumpy end to a grumpy year, there was a realistic chance he went searching for a fresh start and more happiness elsewhere, regardless of how rapidly and warmly the Warriors prioritized him.”

When push came to shove, Lacob’s strategy backfired. 

Thompson agreed to join the Dallas Mavericks, Paul George agreed to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Warriors now are left scrambling just days into NBA free agency.

It must be noted that the Lacob greatly has considered the league’s CBA which has put some handcuffs on teams like the Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers, who had a trio of stars. 

Back in February, Lacob revealed a top priority was getting Golden State under the luxury tax and the second apron before the 2024-25 NBA season. At the time of discussion, the Warriors were $88.4 million over the league’s 2023-24 salary cap and $23.2 million above the second apron, per Spotrac -- far from ideal.

No one knows how the Warriors will recover from Thompson’s shocking, but eventual, departure.

But Lacob clearly is as responsible as anyone for the end of Golden State’s “Splash Brothers" era.

Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast

Contact Us