Klay Thompson

Klay's Warriors departure drops curtain on legendary three-piece band

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The curtain has fallen. The lights are on. The show is over.

After months of speculation and suspense, Klay Thompson plans to leave the Warriors for the Dallas Mavericks and, moreover, separate from longtime bandmates Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.

Thus ends — after 13 years, nine playoff appearances and four NBA championships — the glorious trinity that delivered the most distinguished era in Golden State’s 62-year history.

This conflicts with the stated wishes of Curry and Green, both of whom in April expressed a desire to keep Thompson in the family. To extend the uniqueness that comes with being the NBA’s longest group of teammates with the same team.

“We've been through the highest of highs and lows,” Thompson said at the end of the season. “Whether it's losing a championship, winning a championship, missing the playoffs, we've been through everything together. So that does mean a lot. It makes me grateful to have the times I've had with them. That was pretty historic stuff.”

The unofficial Warriors logo featured Steph flanked by Draymond and Klay, all three flashing four fingers to signify their greatest collective accomplishment. All three, in their heart of hearts, looked favorably upon the idea of spending their entire careers with one franchise.

But reading between the lines of Thompson’s statement, and noting the past-tense references, were indications that he was open to the possibility of moving on.

The lure of something new with the Mavericks — and the three-year, $50 million contract they reportedly presented Monday — was too much for Thompson to resist.

The Warriors would like to have retained Thompson, but their luxury-tax woes made it apparent there were budgetary limitations. They realized last summer that they might be outbid by an aggressive franchise with sufficient salary-cap space and a yearning to add a veteran scorer.

Golden State’s hope was that Thompson might sacrifice a few million dollars for the sake of familiarity, continuity and comfort with the franchise that drafted him in 2011 and signed him to a maximum contract (five years, $190 million) only one month after he tore his left ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals.

Maybe he would remain with the franchise about which he has “nothing but positive things to say.”

But Thompson, 34, is a free thinker. He’s a boat captain at sea. A proud owner of his beloved English bulldog, Rocco. Has a strong spirit of independence. He lives to his own beat, which is part of his charm.

Which is why he might be intrigued by new surroundings. A man can’t be blamed for exploring, particularly if it’s lucrative. This might be a rebirth for Thompson.

This is bittersweet tor the Warriors and for Dub Nation, which has grown exponentially over the past decade. And the primary reason for the glory behind the expanded fan base can be traced back to the practically perfect pairing that was the Curry-Thompson backcourt.

Curry, three inches shorter and 25 pounds lighter, running the point and lighting up defenses at every level between the rim and the logo. He could spend most of his energy on offense because Thompson, the vastly superior on-ball defender, would be assigned to the guard representing the biggest offensive threat. Didn’t matter if he was a 6-foot-3 point guard, like Damian Lillard, or a 6-foot-6 scorer, such as DeMar DeRozan.

At their individual peaks, Steph was the game’s most dangerous offensive force, and Klay was a member of the All-Defensive team. The way in which they complemented each other is why the duo was the most complete backcourt in NBA history.

Those days are over. While Thompson still can shoot himself in a zone where the ball seems wired to drop through the rim, his on-ball defense is an obvious casualty of devastating injuries, the torn ACL in June 2019, and the ruptured right Achilles’ tendon in November 2020.

Thompson’s defensive decline was a factor in Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s decision to experiment with him as the team’s Sixth Man last season, and it surely played a part in Golden State’s value assessment of him.

What’s done is done. Klay is gone, and there will be grieving in Dub Nation and maybe, among those whose hearts are hurting, a few tears shed.

A legendary band is splitting up. Steph was the lead singer and biggest celebrity, and Draymond was the ferocious star drummer. Klay? He was the guitarist whose incredible solos could leave audiences spellbound and reliving the memories for years.

The last notes have been played. The silence is temporary but loud.

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