NBA rumors: Klay Thompson to return tonight

More on Klay Thompson Injury

Klay Thompson was a late scratch yesterday. So is there any sense that his absence could extend beyond missing just that one game? Marc J. Spears: Yeah, no warriors aren't too concerned. This is the same knee that's clever in the finals and that game six against the raptors, but it's just some soreness and they're erring on the side of caution. Everything I'm hearing is he's expected to play tomorrow night against Dallas.
What has been your message to Klay in his return? (Thompson is currently on a restriction of 20 minutes — with the plan of gradually increasing by five minutes every few weeks before he is a full-go for the postseason.) Stephen Curry: I’ve let him know: There’s no pressure. We got off to a good start this year so that we could have this buffer, this middle part of the year for him to get his legs back and understand what it feels like for his body to play at this level again. Two and a half years is such a long time between games. He can still shoot the ball, still crazy competitive and understands the long game. It’s only been a few games. For him to understand he’s going to get back to the player he is in due time … he knows April, May and June is what it’s all about. I can’t wait to see it.
Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob says he’s not a tweeter, but if he were to send a tweet, he knows exactly what it would say. “I would tweet, ‘Tonight Chase Center is finally finished with construction,’ ” Lacob told Yahoo Sports Sunday night after Klay Thompson made his season debut after spending nearly two years recovering from ACL and Achilles tears. “We’re halfway through our third year in this building, and I feel like Klay is the final piece to the construction.”
The origin of Thompson’s 177-game absence occurred in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals between the Warriors and Toronto Raptors. Green was a member of that Raptors championship team, and he was whistled for a foul after he attempted a chase-down block on Thompson. The collision caused the five-time All-Star to land awkwardly on his left leg, tearing his ACL. “If I can take that play back, I would,” Green told Yahoo Sports on Sunday night. “No one wants to see a great player go down, and no one wants to be the cause of that. It wasn't intentional. I’m glad that he’s back. The game has missed him.”
“When it first happened, I thought I blocked the ball,” Green told Yahoo Sports. “I thought it was a clean block and then he went down, I was like, ‘Man, he’s hurt. Let me make sure he’s OK.’ Some of the guys on the sidelines were upset. A lot of fans were upset. Obviously, I got a lot of backlash for it. But I'm trying to make a clean play on the ball, and I just wanted to make sure he was good. ... And then he came back on the court to shoot his free throws, and that's when I thought he was fine. “I didn't know that he tore anything until after the game, which was a tough blow. It was tough to hear what was being said, but I didn't look at myself as the victim. My concern was for him. Their fans are great fans. They’re going to encourage their team. And anybody that tries to hurt or do anything to the other 10 or 13 players, they're gonna fight for them. So, I got some heated emotions from some of the fans, but every time I've spoken about the incident, I've stated that it was not purposeful at all.”
Connor Letourneau: Every Warriors player showed up at Chase Center today in a Klay Thompson jersey. "I don't know who's idea it was," Kerr said, "but I think it's great."
Nick Friedell: Pop on Klay's return: "It's another big thrill for the fans. I don't mean just Golden State. The league is about players, it's about talent ... and him being one of the best shooters in the world, and also a hell of a defender, just adds to the aura of their team and to the NBA."
Stephen Curry: My brother returning to the court has me going down memory lane... let me hear your favorite @KlayThompson memories! #KlayDay
Ohm Youngmisuk: Juan Toscano-Anderson said Klay Thompson scored “12 points in 43 seconds” during a recent scrimmage and it made him think to himself, “damn, we got two guys” that can do that.
Klay Thompson: How I’m pulling up to chase tomorrow, Bill Murray is my spirit animal . IM SO EXCITED TO SEE YALL DUBNATION ! LETS GET IT
Wiseman noted that Thompson was "very inspirational to me," and tried to keep the young center's spirits up as the pair went through the arduous rehab process together. "During the summer when I was still on my crutches and stuff and I had my brace, I was like really down mentally," Wiseman admitted. "But at the same time I'm a really strong person, but it's just hard watching the games and you can't play. So I was kind of down mentally, but he encouraged me to keep going. ... We just kept each other uplifted throughout this offseason and we're doing it every day."
Thompson struggles to put into words what it will be like when he finally returns. Curry, however, does not. "It's like when you go to a Broadway play or you go see 'Hamilton' and all the cast comes out at the end," Curry said. "Like the whole stage is doing the bows and curtsies and all that, and the whole audience is going nuts because they really appreciate the show that they got to see. ... And then it will hopefully be an energy like during his 37-point quarter where every time he shoots, it will be like a game winner."
After missing two consecutive seasons with ACL and Achilles tears, Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson is expected to return on Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Chase Center, sources tell The Athletic.
“He’s actually a pretty interesting guy, as the media and people are starting to see the last couple of years with his boat, his dog, hiking and going to the beach,” Bogut said in a phone interview. “He’s really quirky and the reason I like him as an NBA player is he doesn’t follow the mantra of what he should be. “He’s the most nonchalant All-Star I’ve been around in my career. Just an everyday normal guy that’s happy with the silliest of things at times. He’s not too worried about that NBA life of sports cars and all that kind of stuff.”
“I still remember in the 2016 Olympics, we’re all staying in the village,” Bogut said. “The USA (men’s basketball team), as you know, they’re too big-time for the village. They have them on a cruise liner or whatever they stay at. But we get back from practice one day, like middle of the tournament, got off the bus and in the village we’re walking to our residences. And I see Klay. As I’m on the bus I see Klay just walking around, Team USA gear, headphones on, just walking by himself. “So I jump off the bus, I’m like, ‘Klay, what are you doing, man?’ Say hello to him. He goes, ‘Yeah, I just wanted to come see the village.’ He just came by himself, no security, no other players with him. Then he’s like, ‘Where are you going?’ I said, ‘I’m just going back to the Australian quarters.’ And he’s, ‘Can I come with you?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, no worries.’
“And he came with us, hung out with a few of our players, because he knows Aron Baynes and Brock Motum. Came and said hello to them. And then fast-forward two or three hours later, I thought he’d left. I walked downstairs to go to dinner or whatever and he’s downstairs playing ping-pong with, like, someone from the athletics team on the Australian national team, you know?”
Pachulia, now a Warriors executive, has spent the last few weeks in Europe for the holidays (and watching his sons in a youth basketball tournament), but he’s absolutely making sure he’ll be back in San Francisco for whenever Klay is set to return. I’ve heard a lot of Warriors people get emotional talking about the anticipation for this. But Pachulia topped them all. “I can’t wait!” Pachulia said with a bellow. “It’s been an extremely long two years. Especially the last stretch, that’s been the longest. He sees the light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t imagine the energy we’re going to have in Chase Center for that game. I don’t know how he’s going to sleep the night before. I don’t know how I’m going to sleep the night before.”
The most public example of this phenomenon came when Pachulia and Klay exchanged several public challenges, all, coincidentally, highlighting some of their lesser hoop attributes. They bet about which of them would have more dunks in a season, which lasted multiple seasons, including after Pachulia left the Warriors for Detroit in his final season.
Clutch Points: Klay Thompson left pregame of Warriors-Heat by holding up six fingers. 🖐🏽☝🏽 His rumored return, Sunday vs. the Cavs, is six days away. 👀
Ohm Youngmisuk: Steve Kerr says Klay Thompson will travel with the team on its upcoming back-to-back at Dallas and New Orleans. James Wiseman, who has cleared protocols, will not travel with team as he continues to make his way back.
Adrian Wojnarowski: There’s optimism Golden Warriors guard Klay Thompson will make his return vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, sources tell ESPN. A final decision is expected once the Warriors return from a two-game trip on Friday.
Anthony Slater: Klay Thompson said he feels “very close” -Target date? “That’s up to Mr. Celebrini.” -Set on it being a home return? “Yeah. I want it to be in front of our fans. They deserve it.”
Anthony Slater: Klay Thompson took part in a scrimmage today in Denver on the same team as Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins. First time he’s ever played with Wiggins. Here is Kerr on it.
Even now, the party continues. Because as Thompson barrels toward one of the most anticipated comebacks in Bay Area history, he’s still singing the praises of those who added some finishing touches to what looks like the end of his two-and-a-half-year rehabilitation odyssey. And no NBA prospect makes Thompson more animated, more talkative, than a 28-year-old former Division III point guard whose pro career topped out with a junior-league team in Spain. David Fatoki, now a rising executive, is the general manager of the Santa Cruz Warriors. Thompson ranks among his biggest fans. The Warriors star agreed to this interview simply because of the subject matter. “Anything for ‘Toki,” Thompson said as he settled into his seat. “Thanks for writing about Dave,” he said as he departed.
Thompson shrugs off the suggestion that he consciously played any kind of leadership role in Santa Cruz, where he spent two and a half weeks in late November and early December. But he doesn’t mind that his work ethic may have caught the attention of an NBA hopeful. “I just love the game so much. The last few years have been really hard for me, not being able to perform on the court,” Thompson said. “When I was down there (in Santa Cruz), I was able to just get up and down. “I’m just grateful to run, jump, cut, defend, shoot the ball. That has a whole new meaning to me now after the surgeries I’ve been through and the rehabs I’ve been through. Just to be able to be healthy and play the game, it’s really a blessing.”
Former Warriors guard Monta Ellis sent out a warning to the rest of the league, saying Klay’s comeback will be “scary” for other teams. Although an exact date is unknown at this time, Thompson said during an Instagram live on Dec. 3 that his return could be in a few weeks or a month. And whether Christmas comes early this year for Dub Nation or not, it’s safe to say Klay’s return is coming soon. “That's going to be scary for other teams because of how they are playing right now,” Ellis told 95.7 The Game’s “Steiny and Guru” on Friday. “But you can tell he's determined to get back. He's doing it the right way, not trying to rush back too fast.”
Ron Kroichick: Steph Curry on Klay Thompson’s eventual return: “Thank God he still remembers how to shoot the ball. That hasn’t changed at all. It seems like he has good pep in his step, good energy.” #Warriors
Melissa Rohlin: Stephen Curry when asked about Klay Thompson's progress. "Thank God he still remembers how to shoot the ball," he said.
Kerith Burke: Steve Kerr said Klay Thompson’s stamina now in scrimmages compared to when he first started scrimmaging is “pretty dramatic.” Kerr cautioned frustrating days could be ahead when the gains in endurance and strength aren’t as huge. “He needs to play day after day,” Kerr said.
But a year removed from Achilles repair and almost 2 ½ years past ACL surgery, Thompson appeared overwhelmed by just how much he has endured and how tough the final steps will be in his arduous trek back to the court. “He can’t help but stop and think about how much he’s lost during the past couple of years,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “He loves the game so much. Not being able to play and not being able to really be a part of the team the way he wants, it’s been pretty emotional for him. He’s very human. He’s vulnerable. He’s emotional. That’s what makes him such a beautiful person. He cares. He loves the game, and he loves the work. “He wants to be a part of everything, and all of that has been ripped away the past two years.”
“Unless he wants to write a book and tell every step of the way, nobody will understand what he’s been through away from the game,” Warriors point guard Stephen Curry said. “Two-plus years is a long time. Going into this particular season, with him getting closer than he’s ever been to getting back on the floor, I kind of predicted that this would be the hardest part of his journey. “He’s got the basketball back in his hands every day. He’s feeling like himself. He’s playing pickup. He’s around our practices. He’s back with us in those type of situations, but he’s still not on the court.”
“He’s right there, getting toward the end of the road. Or, the beginning of the road. However you choose to look at it,” Green said. “He has these days from time to time. I understand it as far as I can understand, without going through it. I don’t know many people who love basketball the way that Klay loves basketball or loves competing the way he loves competing. “You want to impact the game. You want to have your presence out there and make your presence felt. After almost three full calendar years off the floor, it’s tough. … But it’s beautiful to watch him conquer his journey.”
Shams Charania: Another step in Klay Thompson’s return process: The Golden State Warriors assigned Thompson to G League Santa Cruz for increased practice reps, sources tell me and @Anthony Slater.
Monte Poole: ‘Who knows when it will be. Hopefully first half of the season.’ — Warriors G Klay Thompson on his impending return Adds that he hopes it’s the first ‘trimester.’ He’s ramping up his minutes with each scrimmage.
Anthony Slater: Klay Thompson said his scrimmages have been 4-minute quarters. He will ramp up to 5-minute, 6-minute, 7-minute quarters the next couple weeks. Eventually plan is to get to 12-minute quarters within a month: "That's when I'll be approaching gameplay."
Nick Friedell: Kerr on Klay: “He looks good ... Klay is just so happy to be out there playing, competing.” Kerr says Klay did everything at practice today and it’s just a matter of building up Klay’s strength and endurance now.
In-season practices aren’t the most intense. Veterans typically use off-days to rest, get treatment and watch film. So Thompson won’t spend the next week running through constant game speed reps with Steph Curry and Draymond Green. The full-team workouts are pretty light. But this is still a vital advancement in his ramp-up. The Warriors don’t have a game on either Monday or Tuesday. During off-days, they typically set up a scrimmage with players at the back end of their team rotation who need court work. Thompson is expected to join those scrimmages, matching him against other current NBA athletes in a full-blown, unconstrained contact setting for the first time since he suffered the first of two major injuries in June 2019 when he sustained a torn ACL. Thompson suffered a torn Achilles tendon last November.
Free agent and recent pro Dante Exum was among the players in this past week’s Thompson scrimmages, and sources said Thompson had strong showings in the five-on-five play. It was his first time running five-on-fives, albeit with players who are not currently playing on a pro team. Mychel Thompson, Klay Thompson’s older brother, has also been a featured presence as part of the return-to-play plan. It’s been 892 days since Klay Thompson has appeared in a game. His right Achilles tear came during the final stage of his left ACL rehab, so the Warriors — given the extended layoff and recent experience — have been extremely careful easing him back. Steve Kerr has mentioned multiple times his belief that Kevin Durant’s brilliant return from an Achilles injury is partially due to the 18-month gap between tear and return.
“(Brooklyn) did a smart job last year pacing him,” Kerr said of Durant. But Thompson is fully healed from both injuries. It’s now only about conditioning and rhythm, building his body back to game shape. The next month is essentially viewed as his training camp; the increasingly intense scrimmages will be his preseason. In controlled settings, Thompson’s been doing 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 contact for about a month and hasn’t shied away from the cameras, even going through his shooting routine on the main court pregame in a full jersey, an indication of how well he is beginning to feel. Early in camp, he was hesitant to be spotted, even telling a couple of cameras to stop filming.
Those viewing his recent workouts and scrimmages report encouraging shades of the Thompson of old — the shot as deadly as ever, the big guard physicality still a part of his game, though fatigue sets in quickly. Thompson has already warned fans to expect limited minutes upon his return, living in the 18-22 range to start and perhaps some back-to-back restrictions as he builds his stamina. “I'll be honest, I don't expect to come back balls to the wall, 38 minutes a night, guarding the best player, running around 100 screens,” Thompson said in March. “But I'm going to get to that point. I guarantee that."
Thompson will not debut in a road game. Kerr has said the organization wants to save that moment for Chase Center, which nails down a pair of likely dates to expect him back. The Warriors have three home games in early December. That appears too soon. They then go out East on a five-game trip, not returning until Dec. 20 for two home games.
Barring setbacks, either Dec. 20 against the Kings or Dec. 23 against the Grizzlies are expected comeback dates before the marquee matchup on Christmas Day in Phoenix. If Thompson does not return during that pocket of games, the Warriors also have two off days after the Christmas Day game prior to a Dec. 28 home game against the Nuggets. As with all return-to-play situations, it remains in flux, dependent on how his body responds to an increased workload. But that’s the landscape for a Thompson returns as December nears.
Anthony Slater: Here’s a full update on Klay Thompson and James Wiseman from Steve Kerr. -Klay has been playing 5-on-5, but “that doesn’t mean he’s gonna step on an NBA court next week” -Wiseman still hasn’t been cleared for 5-on-5
“I love it,” Thompson told Sports Illustrated last week, through a defiant grin. “I love it. I hope people keep doubting us. I saw somebody on the TV the other day talking about, The Warriors aren’t contenders because they’ve had a soft schedule. Buddy, we got the MVP, a defensive player of the year. That kind of disrespect bothers me. We have so many champions, guys who have done it in the highest pressure moments, and you’re still gonna question our ability? I love it. But whatever. That’s what talking heads are paid to do.”
“We need Klay back,” Green said. “That will be a huge boost for us. But in the meantime, guys are stepping up, guys are playing well and we're in a good groove.”
So well, in fact, that he reportedly could return sooner than originally expected. As in, before Christmas. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski joined "NBA Countdown" on Wednesday, and reported an extremely exciting update on Thompson. "I'm told if he continues on his current course right now in rehab, that a target date for his return will be set probably within the next couple weeks," Wojnarowski said. "And it could be --there's optimism it could be as soon as December 20, December 23. The Warriors have home games before Christmas, and so the plan for Klay Thompson is to continue to ramp up. "The Warriors will go on a road trip in mid-December, and at that point, if Klay continues on this track, he'd go down and play with the Warriors' G League team. And the idea is, and the hope is, they'll have him back perhaps prior to Christmas."
According to NBA insider Brian Windhorst of ESPN, there is confidence Thompson will be at his best in his return to the floor. “The whispers around the league right now about Klay Thompson. They say he looks good. There is a real confidence in there that, especially by the end of the season, that Klay is going to be BACK back,” Windhorst said.
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