Klay Thompson

Klay-PG13 saga leaves Warriors in quite the predicament

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Warriors have spent the last 10 weeks going public with a teamwide recruiting pitch hoping to persuade Klay Thompson to re-sign, allowing them to retain the veteran core that has won four championships in the last 10 years.

All while internally exploring the possibility of making a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers that would bring Paul George to Golden State.

Which has led to a likely Warriors-Thompson divorce – and the Warriors confronting a quandary.

The George option is a memory for Golden State. The 34-year-old wing opted out of the final year of his contract Saturday and moves into unrestricted NBA free agency. The Warriors lack the salary-cap space to compete. PG13 could re-sign with LA or move to a team like the Philadelphia 76ers, who have the cap space to meet his reported goal of a maximum contract.

Which brings the Warriors back to Thompson, who officially becomes an unrestricted free agent on Sunday and open for recruitment. The problem is that Thompson and his representatives at the Wasserman Group are not in the mood to hear what the Warriors have to say.

The Warriors realize Thompson is not inclined to return for another run alongside longtime teammates Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen. The history of NBA summers has provided many tales of twists and turns and changes of heart.

As of Saturday afternoon, though, all indications are that the open secret that was Golden State’s pursuit of George – with Thompson waiting on deck – have affected Klay more profoundly than those public pitches.

Thompson, 34, now has leverage with the Warriors. If he wants more money from them, or more years, there is a greater chance than there was a few days ago.

If Thompson simply wants to leave, as one league source on Saturday indicated to NBC Sports Bay Area is the case, that forces Golden State to shift into damage control. The Warriors DO NOT – uppercase intended – want to lose Thompson for nothing more than a lower payroll.

The Warriors, dreading the possibility of Thompson leaving without getting no impactful player in return, are willing to work with his representatives to arrange a sign-and-trade deal, according to a report by The Athletic.

Thompson is coming off a five-year contract worth $190 million, which the Warriors paid knowing he would miss at least one season after tearing his left ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals. A little more than a year after surgery, he sustained a ruptured right Achilles tendon. He missed another full season and half of the next, returning in January 2022.

Thompson in 2018 said he “would like to be a Warrior for life.”

Upon getting the contract in July 2019, Thompson expressed abundant gratitude for the Warriors deciding to deliver a maximum deal knowing there might be questions about effectiveness after a major injury.

During his season-ending news conference in April, though, Thompson’s reaction to getting that contract conveyed an altogether different tone.

“Oh, man,” he began. “Well, 2019, well could you imagine if they didn't pay me after I got hurt? That would have been really bad. Like, ‘Oh, you went to five straight Finals, you blew your knee out, yeah, sorry.’ That was very nice of them.

“I try every year I give my best effort. And the ownership group has been great. I have nothing but positive things to say about them. They treat us with great respect and do all the little things for us to do our jobs at the highest level.

“So, ... [the future], it's up to them. But at the end of the day whatever happens, it's all gravy, it's been such a freaking special run.”

Golden State’s run is over, even if Thompson moves past emotions surfacing from feeling neglected and decides to return. The Warriors have dropped from the No. 3 Western Conference seed in 2022 – and a fourth NBA championship – to the No. 6 seed in 2023 to the No. 10 seed, missing the playoffs, in 2024.

Which is why the Warriors are scouring every possible option to extract maximum value should they lose Thompson. They wade into free agency under a dense cloud they hope he can help them clear.

Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast

Contact Us