Klay Thompson

Report: Klay felt joining Lakers was too similar to re-joining Warriors

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Klay Thompson needed a fresh start after spending 13 years with the Warriors, and the Dallas Mavericks offered that.

The Los Angeles Lakers, however, didn’t. 

After it was reported that Thompson narrowed his free-agent decision down to the Mavericks and Lakers, many -- including the sharpshooter’s father -- wondered why he didn’t head to Hollywood. Well, the situation in Los Angeles reportedly appeared too similar to the one in San Francisco, in Thompson’s eyes.

“But something about playing for the Lakers apparently felt too much like playing for the Warriors,” ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Kendra Andrews reported in a feature story Wednesday. “As one source close to him put it, ‘Would this be trading one fishbowl for another?’

“All Thompson had talked about in the two weeks since he had decided and accepted that his time with the Warriors was over was wanting ‘new experiences’ and a ‘fresh start.’ Dallas seemed like a better place to get that.”

Thompson left Golden State after it embarrassingly missed the NBA playoffs for the first time with the trio of himself, Steph Curry and Draymond Green all healthy. Infamously, Thompson shot 0-for-10 in the Warriors’ season-ending NBA Play-In Tournament loss to the Sacramento Kings in April. 

The Lakers, similarly sad, finished the 2023-24 regular season as the Western Conference’s No. 7 seed and were swept by the Denver Nuggets in the first round, a huge disappointment considering the hype a team with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves receives on a nightly basis.

Would Thompson have been entering a similar situation with Los Angeles? Probably. 

There is no telling what his role would be with the Lakers. Thompson very well could have found himself on the bench behind Reaves or Russell the same way he did behind then-Warriors rookie Brandin Podziemski. Or, Thompson might have been a starter.

Regardless, Thompson certainly would be under heavy scrutiny -- much more than he was in the Bay -- for the tiniest of lapses. Los Angeles sports fans are some of the most passionate with uncomforting expectations, and the 34-year-old certainly doesn’t need any of that in his life right now -- as a four-time NBA champion, especially.

Instead, Thompson sought out the balance between title contention, opportunity and less attention that ultimately he found with Dallas. 

It likely was flattering for Thompson to know the team he grew up rooting for, which still employs his Lakers player-turned-broadcaster father, badly wanted him. It also doesn’t hurt that one of the best basketball players in the world was willing to take a pay cut for him, Shelburne and Andrews reported, citing sources.

But it appears James and Los Angeles didn’t offer the right fit for Thompson, with the former Warriors star needing to get away from his struggles in California and seek greener pastures in the Lone Star State.

The Mavericks, coming off an NBA Finals loss to the Boston Celtics, potentially were a Thompson away from being this season’s ring-winners. They'll be in the mix again next season.

Thompson is entering a fresh situation with new players eager to remain contenders, whereas the Warriors and Lakers are years removed from their glory days while sporting virtually the same rosters.

It is safe to say Thompson made the right decision by joining Dallas over Los Angeles.

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