Klay Thompson

Klay, Kerr contract extensions ‘high priority' for Dunleavy, Dubs

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Most of the offseason has sailed past and there is uncertainty about the futures of coach Steve Kerr and shooting guard Klay Thompson, both of whom are critical to the Warriors chasing a championship.

They represent the team’s only significant circles in need of closure, but general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. says he’s on the job.

“Those are guys we definitely want to get locked up,” Dunleavy said on the latest “Dubs Talk," which debuted Tuesday. “They’ve been a big part of what we’ve done here. They can still contribute, especially Klay on the court. And Steve is one of the best, if not the best, coach in the league.”

Kerr and Thompson each have one season remaining on their respective contracts. Dunleavy – as authorized by Golden State CEO Joe Lacob – has about two months to avoid the kind of tension nobody wants to cope with during the season.

Re-signing both before training camp begins Oct. 2 is a must, not only for the tangibles they offer but also to prevent any semblance of the drama felt by the Warriors five years ago.

As the team gathered for training camp in 2018, Kevin Durant’s Warriors future was a hot topic. He had signed a two-year contract, but there was an opt-out clause after Year 1. He could walk after the season. When he was about it on media day, KD’s response provided no clarity.

“To keep my options open, it was the best thing for me,” Durant said. “I easily could’ve signed a long-term deal, but I just wanted to take it season by season and see where it takes me. I think this whole year will be a fun and exciting year for us all. I’m just looking forward with that. We’ll see what happens after the year.”

The year was not “fun.” As hot topic became sore subject, KD’s previous affability faded. He turned sour and the season became a grind of slog of a quagmire. All because the locker room, particularly Draymond Green, sensed Durant had one foot in the fray and the other creeping toward the exit.

When the season ended with devastating injuries to KD and Klay, depriving the Warriors of a reasonable chance to win a third consecutive NBA Finals, players and coaches were emotionally exhausted.

This is not to imply that the 2023-24 Warriors would be sidetracked if Kerr and Thompson are staring into hazy futures – but to suggest that their signatures on a contract would remove even the slightest possibility.

“It’s a high priority level in terms of getting those guys done,” Dunleavy said.

“We’ll see. Obviously, there’s always a financial component and (whether) guys want to be here. We greatly value them and hope we can work things out.”

Ahh, this is where things get sticky.

Kerr enjoys coaching the Warriors and often expresses appreciation of Lacob’s support but has low-keyed his desire for an extension. His offseason has been about patience and preparing to coach Team USA in the FIBA World Cup. He has questions to ask of himself.

Meanwhile, the coaching market took a mighty swing in his favor. Kerr’s friend and mentor Gregg Popovich last month signed an extension to remain with the San Antonio Spurs. Popovich, 74, signed a five-year contract reportedly worth at least $80 million, or no less than $16 mil per. Then, too, the Detroit Pistons gave Monty Williams – with zero championships on his resumé – a six-year contract averaging more than $13 million annually.

Those numbers probably sent a chill down Lacob’s spine, but that’s the game in today’s NBA. As his GM knows.

“Everybody is taking advantage of the money that’s out there,” Dunleavy said. “I think it’s great to see in the league as a whole. It means the league is doing really well. People are watching, enjoying the games. All in all, it’s great.

“From a coaching standpoint, I’m sure the coaches are happy. From the players’ standpoint, I’m sure they’re thrilled about the deal the guy in Boston just signed. That’s the way this league works. When teams and players do well, everybody benefits.”

The Celtics rewarded Jaylen Brown – with zero championship rings – a five-year supermax extension worth between $288 million and $304 million, depending on the source. Either amount is an NBA record.

Which brings us to Thompson, whose last contract, signed in 2019, was a max deal worth $190 million over five years. Klay expressed gratitude toward the Warriors for giving him such a payout while knowing he would miss at least one season after undergoing surgery for a torn ACL.

This time around, even as some reports indicate Klay wants another max deal, the Warriors – who will get no more than 2.5 seasons of activity on a five-year contract – would like a compromise.

Dunleavy, in the tradition of any prudent GM, particularly one new to the job, offered no details.

“I don’t give a whole lot in terms of what goes on between the walls of Chase Center,” he said. “But we’ve had good conversations. We’ll continue to do that. I’m optimistic that we can work things out with both of those guys.”

Curry and Green, representing half of the established core, are locked up for at least three more seasons. If the Warriors are serious about maintaining the core, they’ll do the same for the other half.

Klay wants to play until his body has enough; he’s years away from retirement. If re-signing Kerr requires making an offer he can’t refuse, the Warriors must do it.

This is going to be costly even if Klay takes a discount, but Lacob and Dunleavy know the rules of competition, that trying to succeed on the cheap is a ticket to mediocrity. At best.

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