Storyline: Klay Thompson Free Agency

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Adrian Wojnarowski: “The best-case scenario for the Lakers is they add Anthony Davis, and then Golden State doesn’t offer Klay Thompson a max contract. They try to get Klay to take a little less than the max and if that happens I’m told Klay’s attention will be on the Lakers if they have Anthony Davis. Now we’ll see what Golden State does there. They’ve got a lot of players to pay going forward. They want to re-sign Kevin Durant. They certainly want to re-sign Klay, they’ve got Draymond Green coming up in free agency the following year.”

On the other hand, James had never extended public praise to Klay before this season. It’s of a similar vein to Luke Walton hanging with Klay on a Qatar trip this offseason, in what many around the league saw as part of a soft recruitment. While Thompson has indicated an interest in remaining a “Warrior for life,” his return cannot just be taken for granted. Still, the expectation within and outside the Warriors is that Klay isn’t leaving. This is why you don’t hear about any team besides the Lakers gearing up for the Summer of Klay.

Thompson will turn 29 this season and will hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career next summer. With upward of a decade more of professional hoops remaining, Thompson could decide to wear a different uniform. And were he to hit free agency, it would be at a time when his particular skill set has never been more valued by this league. Every single team has shooting at the top of its wish list. The Lakers would definitely love a shot at pairing him with LeBron James. But the expectation across the league is that Thompson will re-sign with Golden State. Executives I’ve spoken with said they would be shocked if Thompson left the Warriors.
4 months ago via ESPN

No hometown discount

Another wild card: What if Golden State signals it doesn’t want to pay full freight for one of Klay Thompson (a free agent this summer) and Draymond Green (a free agent in the summer of 2020, potentially up for a massive designated player extension after this season)? Thompson has no plans to take a discount, and the Warriors don’t expect him to, league sources say. Green already is dealing with small injuries; the league is curious about how his game will age.

You mentioned, I think at the end of last season, that you were going approach Klay Thompson and Draymond Green with contract extension offers. Did that happen? Was there any progress made with either one of them? Joe Lacob: I’ll let Bob address those, specifically. But I think it’s fair to say we’ve had discussions with both of them over the summer, their representatives. Nothing’s been done or you’d hear about it. But we’d love to retain them long term in the organization and we will do whatever it takes to do that.

One name that’s flown under the radar to a large extent — despite a seamless fit and connections to the Lakers organization — is Klay Thompson, and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN says his name has come up with those she’s spoken to in an appearance on “ESPNLA Mornings with Keyshawn, LZ and Travis”: “In terms of who they target next year, it’s whoever wants to come. “My feeling about it, my sense from just talking to people in and around this (is that) one, it’s a little early, but I think they like Mychal’s boy. I think that would be the guy, in terms of skillset and how that would fit. Obviously Kawhi, he’s a great player as well, but we’ll see if he stays in Toronto now. But I think they like Klay (Thompson).”

Adrian Wojnarowski: “Klay Thompson has – I had him on the podcast at the All-Star weekend this past year – he kinda said the same thing, he’s been very consistent: ‘I wanna be here, I don’t imagine playing anywhere else.’ And I think that if the Warriors are in position to offer him the full max right out of the gate, and not have to try to finesse him to take a little less to fit everybody in, if he got offered the full max, I don’t know that he’d look anywhere else. If he gets offered a little less [than the full max] then maybe he looks.”

“He’s got such a good thing here,” Mychal Thompson said. “The Warriors have such a special thing here. For the next six or seven years they’re going to be championship material, they’re not going to break that up. The Bulls (with Michael Jordan) were broken up too prematurely. (Warriors owners) Joe Lacob and Peter Guber aren’t going to let that happen. Are you kidding? They can afford it. They’re the Warriors, this is the Bay Area, they got a beautiful arena, and money’s no object for this team.”

And after reflecting on winning his third NBA championship with the Warriors in the past four years, Thompson hardly sounded interested in a change of scenery when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next July. “I’ve said it many times before: I would like to be a Warrior for life,” Thompson told Bay Area News Group before hosting a party at Hotel Vitale as a prelude to his first annual Thompson Family Foundation Golf Tournament on Sunday at TPC Harding Park. “Contract negotiations are way down the line. But I think we all have the same interest. I would love to be here for the rest of my career.”

The twist: there is no law that Thompson and Green have to demand the max from the Warriors. Yes, each or both might try to wring every dollar possible, and they have earned the right to ask for it, but the environment seems to point to one or both signing less-than-max extensions before hitting free agency. “Look, we know the numbers,” Myers said. “I don’t think we’re running from those things. … (But) we’ve got a group of players and an ownership group that wants to keep it together. That’s very competitive. Both sides. You’ve heard Klay’s comments (saying he might take less than his max to stay with the Warriors). You’ve been around Draymond. He wants to keep winning.

“We’ll keep talking about it (with Thompson). We talked about that last year (during preseason) in China, we’ll continue to talk about it. For those guys, it’s their choice. We’ll try to pay them what’s fair. And it takes two. I know and understand, they’ve gotta like the deal, too. … “I’ll tell you this, Klay’s not driven monetarily. I think he wants to be paid fairly. I think Draymond’s the same way. And obviously Kevin, he’s shown it, that he doesn’t have to have every last penny. … I feel like if we can create a place that gives them a chance to win a championship, get paid well, enjoy going to work every day — and people think an NBA player loves going to work every day. That’s not true; maybe it should be, but it isn’t. If we can create a place where players enjoy it, the hope is they want to continue to do that.”

Yeah, the next thing. You have Klay and Draymond down the road, and KD this summer. But do you feel like the argument — the fact — that this group has gone to four straight Finals is kind of a trump card over any possible object that anyone might have? Bob Myers: Winning is the only time you don’t have to answer questions. It’s the only time. Twenty-nine other GMs, you have to answer, ‘what if?’ ‘why didn’t you?’ Every coach, every player. You only get to have this emotion once, and it means you have to win. It doesn’t mean, though, that you have a perfect team or that you have a perfect life by any stretch. But for me, it means that you appreciate these guys, you try to keep it together, you thank the people — for me, my family, my wife, the people that went on the journey with you. The sacrifice, the things that nobody knows about. That’s the part you try to keep your eye on. And as far as the group, you value the guys that helped you do it, the players, the coaching staff, people I work with in the front office. I don’t know. I think you treasure each moment with these people. Like I said, I mean, you’ve worked with a ton of people. They change. People come and go, for whatever reason — some good, some bad. It doesn’t matter. It’s life.

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.”
1 year 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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February 22, 2019 | 9:34 pm EST Update