Klay Thompson

Who Perk claims has replaced Klay in Warriors' longtime core

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The NBA offseason is in full swing, and the Warriors have plenty to consider.

ESPN analyst and former NBA pro Kendrick Perkins, like many, believes Golden State should make it a priority to re-sign veteran forward Draymond Green, who opted out of his contract Monday. But when it comes to the extension-eligible Klay Thompson, Perkins believes it could be time for the Warriors to move on because he no longer sees the four-time champion as a vital piece of the team's core.

That spot alongside Green and Steph Curry has been claimed by Andrew Wiggins, Perkins claimed Tuesday on ESPN's "Get Up."

"Me evaluating the Golden State Warriors now, the core group is actually Steph, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green," Perkins said. "I believe that the Warriors need to do everything in their power to make sure that they come to an agreement to keep Draymond Green, and honestly, I’m not pushing the line to keep Klay Thompson.

"As long as I have Draymond Green, Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins, I could fill in the blanks from there."

Perkins went on to say Thompson hasn't been the same player since returning from two back-to-back leg injuries in January 2022, despite the 33-year-old shooting guard leading the league in 3-pointers during the 2022-23 NBA season. Thompson also was behind only Curry for the NBA lead in 3-pointers made per game and finished the regular-season campaign averaging 21.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 69 games.

But, as Perkins noted, Thompson didn't perform to his usual standards in the 2023 NBA playoffs, and during the Warriors' run to their fourth championship in eight seasons last year, Wiggins was the second-best player on the court behind Curry. When Wiggins returned to the floor after a prolonged absence during Golden State's most recent postseason appearance, his presence was felt immediately.

Wiggins, who was acquired via a February 2020 trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, wasn't there for the three championships Thompson, Curry and Green helped bring to the Bay. But there's no denying his impact especially over the last two seasons, made even more clear when considering how greatly his absence was felt when he took time away from the team in mid-February.

The Warriors signed Wiggins to a massive multiyear contract extension worth $109 million after their 2022 NBA Finals win, and the 28-year-old took a significant pay cut of nearly $10 million so that they could make it happen. Some have both suggested and reported Thompson would need to do the same -- though Perkins previously has said the Warriors star should play out the final year of his five-year, $190 million contract in 2023-24 and see if he can get a max deal in free agency.

"Why should Klay Thompson take a pay cut? Let's be honest here, why should Klay take one? He doesn't have to," Perkins said on ESPN in May. "There's teams around the league that would actually give him a bag that he deserves, and rightfully so.

"I don't care about what he did this postseason. We already know what Klay Thompson is capable of doing."

Dub Nation knows, too. And in their eyes, Thompson forever will be a part of the Warriors' core that restored basketball in the Bay.

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