NBA Rumor: Klay Thompson Injury

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For most of Klay Thompson’s NBA career, the Golden State Warriors often described him as “no maintenance.” Why? Thompson consistently shattered shooting records. He played in nearly every game. And he rarely complained. But after experiencing two season-ending injuries in 2019-20 (torn ACL in left knee) and 2020-21 (ruptured right Achilles tendon), will Thompson prove in the 2021-22 season that he no longer requires such hefty repairs? “I would be optimistic that he’s going to be able to get back and compete at a high level again,” said Dr. Michael G. Ciccotti, director of sports medicine and research at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute and an outside consultant for the Philadelphia Sixers, Eagles and Flyers. “But his ability to perform precisely at where he was before? That is something that only time will tell.”

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Although the Warriors haven’t given a timeline on Thompson’s return, medical experts said most players take around a year to improve their range of motion, strength and jumping abilities. That sets Thompson up for a possible return in November or December. “I think it would be harder for a player to come back from rupturing their Achilles first and then tearing their ACL second as opposed to how Klay’s injury was,” Kaplan said. “The Achilles tends to be the harder injury to come back from, tends to take a lot more rehab from and can be set back by a knee injury. Because Klay tore his Achilles tendon last, it gives him more time to recover and gives him a better ability to adapt.”

Now, after recovering from the torn ACL, subsequently tearing his Achilles and spending a year rehabbing one of the harshest injuries in sports, Thompson is ready to return this season for the Warriors. While many would feel cheated of having two years of their athletic prime taken from them, Thompson is different, always looking forward and believing there are big things in store when he re-takes the court for the Warriors. “Yeah, I’m balling out this season,” Thompson said Thursday on his Instagram Live. “By the grace of God, I will be balling. Injuries are no fun, but it’s part of sports. What can you do? … All you can do is keep moving forward for real. … I’m going to bounce back, that’s a fact. I guarantee that.”

Steve Kerr on Klay Thompson's recovery: 'These last few weeks have been great'

During his latest interview on ABC 7, Kerr talked about Thompson’s condition as the Warriors guard works his way back to game shape. The 31-year-old hasn’t played in the NBA since Game 6 of the 2019 Finals against the Toronto Raptors, when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. His supposed return during the 2020-21 campaign was also delayed after picking up the Achilles issue during the offseason. “When Klay started running about three weeks ago, it was like the light was suddenly at the end of the tunnel. I could just tell a big change in his optimism and in his feeling of being part of the group–preparing for next season. These last few weeks have been great, he’s putting in so much work,” Kerr shared.

Anthony Slater: Klay Thompson, from his boat, updating his patient rehab approach: “Hopefully (return) early next season. The Achilles is like a 12-month recovery phase. I also have to factor in my left knee. I don’t want to come back and be half myself.” Thompson had Achilles surgery on Nov 25

He sat out the 2019-20 season after tearing the ACL in his left knee in Game 6 of the finals against the Raptors and needing surgery. “He’s going to do everything in his power to get back to 100%, knowing what he’s been through the last two years,” Curry said. “There’s going to be a lot of support around to help him get there but whatever version of him comes back is definitely a boost. We’ll patiently wait for what that looks like.”

Klay Thompson still two months away from being cleared

His father, former NBA player and current Los Angeles Lakers broadcaster Mychal Thompson, recently shared a Klay health update with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Kerith Burke. “All that he can do right now is just pool therapy, walking, stuff like that,” Mychal Thompson told Burke in an interview that will air Sunday during “Warriors Pregame Live.” “He’s not going to be cleared to do any basketball activity for probably a couple months yet. It takes time with the Achilles. You’ve got to strengthen it and walk and get the tendon all [strong], but he’ll get there.”

“I’m living good,” Thompson told NBC Bay Area during the Warriors’ game against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. “To be back in the building that I’m so eagerly awaiting to play in. Just a little bored at times. Stuff’s slow with trying to let my Achilles heal and get to the next stage, which is mobility work, but I’m feeling good. I’m happy to be with my teammates, obviously. “Unfortunately, I’m not playing. It kills me every day, but I plan on playing for a long time, and I don’t want to have any mishaps come this rehab.”

“Physically he’s going to come around,” Mychal Thompson told Cory Hepola of WCCO 830 in Minnesota. “He’s got to be patient and do his rehab. He’s encouraged to see how Kevin Durant, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Wesley Matthews, players like those guys who have suffered the Achilles injury and have come back 100 percent and as good as ever. He’s also dealing with his knee, but his knee is fine. That gave him no problem and then he tore his Achilles during a workout. Physically, he’s going to be fine, but emotionally is where it’s tough. Mentally, having to sit out two straight years with a major injury when he’s in his prime. That’s very frustrating. I tell you one thing, it makes you appreciate being healthy and appreciate your job, even more, when you can’t play for two straight years. He’ll be back next year this time and he and Steph Curry will pick up right where they left off.”

Warriors want Klay Thompson around during recovery

The Warriors have made it clear to guard Klay Thompson that they’d like to see him around the team as much as possible this season. Thompson, who underwent surgery on his torn right Achilles tendon last month, is slogging through the early stages of his rehab process in Orange County. Golden State head coach Steve Kerr has kept in contact with Thompson and is optimistic that he’ll be around the team soon.

“It’s important for all of us, as well as Klay himself, that he’s around this season,” Kerr said. “Because of last year’s absence and the pandemic, and just the whole bizarre year and a half it’s been for him and our franchise, I would love to have him up here as much as possible. “That’s the plan we’ve talked about, and I know he wants to get up here once he can really start in on his rehab. So, that connection is really important. Klay is such a huge part of our team. I want our young players to feel his presence, and I want Klay here working with our training staff and getting on the court with our team as soon as he can. I think that will be important.”

Much as it’s tempting to move on from that awful moment, an understanding of the prelude to Klay’s injury might give clues as to his future prognosis. Thompson was on his way to completing his lengthy ACL injury rehab when he tore the Achilles in his other leg at that pickup game in Los Angeles. “One of the biggest things that the therapy team and the medical staff are looking at when he’s recovering from his ACL surgery are the presence of any asymmetries,” Sutterer said. “So, let’s say, for his ACL, his left knee can’t quite hit full extension. If he’s able to straighten his right leg all the way, now you’ve got an asymmetry. That asymmetry is going to put you at risk of other types of injuries. Now it’s impossible to say because we don’t know why the Achilles happened, but any time you have asymmetries in your body, from the strength in one quad to the strength in the other quad, to the flexibility in one ankle compared to the other ankle, it’s an issue.”

“I think it depends on who’s defining full recovery,” Sutterer muses. “I think, no matter how good your rehab is, how great your surgery went, your tissues are always different after you’ve had a surgery. So, if the surgeon is saying a full recovery is expected, that probably means something different from the coach or the general manager saying full recovery because they envision full performance recovery, as opposed to full basic functional recovery, which is what a surgeon might be saying. “So, I think it certainly is possible that he can get back to a similar version of what his natural career trajectory would have been, but there’s no doubt that it will be the hardest thing he’s ever done on a basketball court in his life.”

In an interview with the Bay Area News Group, coach Steve Kerr said had it not been for Thompson’s injury, the Warriors may not have used the trade exception at all this offseason. “It 100% triggered the Oubre trade,” Kerr said. “I’m not sure we were going to use the TPE if Klay had been healthy. It was more likely that we would have used the mid-level exception, maybe split it up. That’s what we were talking about anyway.”

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry said he was brought to tears after he received the news about teammate Klay Thompson’s season-ending Achilles tendon injury last week. “You feel for a guy who has worked so hard to get back on the court two-three weeks out of [training camp] and something like that happens,” Curry told The Undefeated on Monday. “You need to have a big-picture mentality when something like this happens. It’s easier said than done going through a lot of rehab, but there is a lot of time left in his career. We’re going to be there through it all.”

Curry learned about Thompson’s injury during a conference call with Warriors general manager Bob Myers and head coach Steve Kerr. “He’s the best 2-guard in the league,” Curry said. “To get that call was a gut punch for sure. A lot of tears. You don’t really know what to say because a guy like that is having to go through two pretty serious rehabs now. But at the end of the day, we have to have his back. We hope that he is around and a part of what we do through his rehab and staying connected with us.”

Stephen Curry: “We know we can compete with anyone in the league. It’s kind of crazy. We know how great Klay is. Don’t get me wrong. But we hear the chatter. ‘It’s the end of for us. This year is a wash. What are we going to do in the future?’ But we are in the moment right now. It’s kind of refreshing being in that category as guys that are chasing. We know [the Los Angeles Lakers] are the defending champs. We got to beat them. We’re ready for it.”

“In the middle of all that, Bob Myers is sitting next to me and he says, ‘a 911 call from Klay’s agent,’” Lacob told me Thursday on my podcast. “And I looked at him, I said, ‘what?’ And he picked up the phone and I could tell there was a problem and then he walked off to talk to him I think more privately, there were a lot of people in the room. And that’s when it happened. “He came back in. I mean, just devastating news for him and for us as an organization. Of course, it put us all in a situation where we had to react really quickly, not panic. But certainly we could’ve decided to change our approach literally two hours before the draft based on imperfect information. Not knowing exactly what had happened or how bad it would be.”

“First of all, we would never do that, as you know,” Lacob said. “We didn’t try to bag last season. Some really bad things happened and unfortunately, we were really bad; we have to admit that. And we wound up with the second pick in the draft, which I think is hopefully a transformational pick for our franchise. “But I can tell you when this happened and we thought what the consequences might be, if the injury was as bad as we thought, two hours before draft night, I thought about it for about 15 minutes. And then I got everybody together in the war room right before the draft and I addressed them. Bob also addressed them.

It remains to be seen when Thompson will join them. The 30-year-old shooting guard suffered a right lower leg injury on Wednesday while playing pickup basketball in downtown Los Angeles with current and former NBA players. Thompson had to be helped out of the gym to his car. There are fears that the five-time All-Star may have torn his right Achilles tendon, several sources told The Undefeated. Warriors general manager Bob Myers says more will be known after an MRI on Thursday.
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