Storyline: Klay Thompson Free Agency

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Klay Thompson: Nothing to this point, privately or through his continuous public comments, would indicate he has a desire to leave the Warriors come July 2019. Plenty of things can change between now and then — playoff failure weeks before a big free agency can sour things — but for now, there’s no cause for concern. And if Thompson gets moved any time before next February’s trade deadline, an unlikely but not impossible development, you’d have to believe it’d be part of a major swing for a huge name, not the early stages of a teardown for prospects and picks.

Thompson likely being ineligible to sign a Designated Veteran extension this summer puts both him and the front office in a more complicated situation moving forward. While the new CBA fixed the extension system for rotation players and the elite, everyone in between faces limitations if they want to sign a new deal with a meaningfully higher starting salary. If Thompson fails to qualify this season, his highest starting salary on an extension is $22.8 million, about $10 million less than the Warriors or any other team can offer him as a free agent in 2019 even if he does not become eligible for a Designated Veteran contract.

Thompson didn’t rule out anything, but it seems like he’d have an issue with New York winters. “I definitely want to play somewhere warm,” the Warriors guard said on a podcast with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “I’ve been playing a lot of golf — so whatever fits well. But it’s special to be with one franchise your whole career. Only so many guys have done it in professional sports. And it’d be weird leaving the Bay Area. I believe I’m going to be there for a very long time. I can say that truthfully. But a lot can happen the next two years. It’s going to be hard to leave California when it’s sunny like this.”

Thompson was asked during a recent media session whether he wants to remain with the Warriors when his first unrestricted free agency rears around in 2019. His answer, according to The San Jose Mercury-News’ Mark Medina: “Absolutely,” he said. “Playing for one team your whole career is definitely special. Only so many guys have done it in professional sports, so it’ll be a goal of mine. Hopefully it all works out.” “It’s so far away. Anything I can do to stay with the Warriors is first and foremost. God willing, it happens. If not, I don’t even think about that.”

But Thompson — who just muttered “probably” and walked off when asked if he expected free agency questions this weekend — doesn’t seem interested in stoking any flames that’ll produce more attention for himself. “Reason why he’s going to get those questions is because of his skill,” Durant said. “He knows how to handle himself. He knows who he is. He has his own identity. He’ll field those questions perfectly and answer them the right way.”

A large part of what fuels the chatter is the perception of obtainability. Until there’s any kind of public clue that Thompson would even entertain the idea of moving elsewhere, it’s hard for people to rationally speculate. “Klay’s going to be a friend for life,” Durant said. “Don’t matter who he play for or what decision he makes. Obviously, if a guy asks what I think about a situation, I’ll give him what I experienced. But he’s a guy who is going to make a decision on his own. He said he wants to be here, just gotta trust his word. Let him do his thing.”
4 months ago via ESPN

Lakers standing pat at trade deadline?

As the Los Angeles Lakers become more realistic about the franchise’s chances of snaring superstars in the free agent class of 2018, the front office is increasingly looking through a longer lens in its team building process, league sources told ESPN. The Lakers aren’t abandoning a summer pursuit of stars, but rather recalibrating on the possibility of a 2019 class that could include San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, league sources told ESPN.

Klay Thompson on the possibility of him signing an extension two summers from now and perhaps playing his entire career for Golden State … “I try not to think that are ahead, but I’d love to be here for as long as I can. What we’ve built here is so special, and I love living in the Bay Area, so that would be a huge priority of mine … I just feel like if I play hard and work hard every day, I’ll get rewarded no matter what I do, so I’m not going to get caught up with the numbers and how much money I could potentially make because it’ll all come around. You’ve just got to stay humble and be appreciative of what I have. And if I keep working this hard, I’ll be rewarded.

Could he imagine himself wanting to go elsewhere and see what he could accomplish on his own? “Winning is so much fun, man,” Thompson said. “It’s one thing to put up numbers and be the top guy on a team and it’s another thing to sacrifice and be on the best team in the NBA. I’ll take the latter every time. We have a lot of guys in this locker room who could be franchise players for other teams. That doesn’t matter. At the end of the day people are going to remember championships. That’s what it’s all about.”
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May 27, 2018 | 11:15 pm EDT Update