NBA Rumor: Klay Thompson Injury

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Klay Thompson’s ACL surgery was now more than 15 months ago. He’s been cleared for full contact since the middle of summer. There was an expectation that this camp would be a chance for him to test that healed knee for the first time in an unrestricted 5-on-5 setting against NBA athletes. But the Warriors’ cautious medical staff opted against full clearance. Thompson participated in every part of the controlled portions of practice, including some full-contact 5-on-5 work, but whenever they switched to unconstrained scrimmaging, Thompson was held out. “He didn’t feel any soreness (all week),” Kerr said. “It’s mainly just easing back into playing this caliber of athlete. It’s been 470 days (since he has). He’s feeling really good. He’s healthy. Rick (Celebrini)’s not concerned at all about the injury. Everything’s healed really well.”

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Thompson, by all accounts, shot it extremely well all week. He seems to be cutting and jumping without fear (video clip here). Kerr said he’s “looking really bouncy” and had a practice sequence in a controlled drill where he dunked off one foot and then “came right back down in transition and had a dunk off two feet.” His strength and rhythm aren’t all the way back, there’s some rust in his game, but as one coach told me: “He’ll be just fine. Least of our concerns.”

He did not, however, participate in unrestricted 5-on-5 scrimmages, including the Team Blue vs. Team White game on Thursday. “We’re taking it really slow with Klay,” Kerr said. “He’s basically taking part in all of practice other than the scrimmage. We did other drills that were live. We did some defensive drills, 5-on-5, more of a controlled scrimmage that he took part in. But at the end of practice scrimmage, we had him doing some 1-on-1 stuff with Leandro (Barbosa). That is the preferable sequence right now.”

Golden State Warriors swingman Klay Thompson participated Friday in his first full practice since tearing his left ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. It had been 470 days since Thompson’s injury and his return was a welcome sight for coaches and teammates who missed having him around. “It was great to have him out on the floor, in the locker room,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said during a video call with reporters. “Just his presence alone gave us a jolt of energy and excitement. Practice went well. This is the first practice coming off an ACL injury and a year and a half absence so I didn’t expect him to be in top shape, in top form, and he was not, but he moved well and it’s a good first step.”

Thompson has mostly been out of the spotlight since the end of the Warriors’ season in March, keeping his rehab and life private … give or take a social-media post or a kayak trip. So, if you’re wondering how Klay is doing heading into camp, his former teammate and current Warriors player mentor coach Leandro Barbosa has the latest. “He’s very good,” Barbosa said on the latest episode of the “Runnin’ Plays” podcast. “He’s my boy, ya know? He’s happy. I haven’t seen Klay for a couple years, and I went to his house [this week], we kind of hung out and we kind of talked. He was happy with me being here, I was happy being here, especially having a chat with him. But he’s doing good, he’s awesome, he’s recovered.”

Leandro knows very well what lies ahead for Klay. “I had the same injury that he has, my injury was a little worse than him,” Barbosa explained. “The main thing about the injury that he has, is not about the knee, he’s healthy and good, it’s right here (in his head). The mindset. Not being scared going into the lane, to not be afraid to do what he used to do. I’ll take a little time for him to have that fully, 100 percent confidence.”

Most Warriors players — including Klay Thompson, Kevon Looney, Andrew Wiggins and Eric Paschall — are expected to participate. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr anticipates a “pick-up ball”-type atmosphere and doesn’t plan to teach specifics of the playbook — something he will save for training camp. In addition to daily workouts, which will include scrimmages, Kerr will invite guest speakers to talk to the team through RingCentral, a video conferencing software. “It’s really informal,” Kerr said in a phone interview Thursday. “It’s almost more important just to be together. … Much less structured than training camp.”

Nick DePaula: In a video to fans in China, Klay Thompson says, “My mind and body are 100% ready to get back on the court.” His new Anta KT5 sneaker launch is inspired by his trip last summer to a 400 year-old Chinese medical center in Shanghai and the treatment he received there.

Kerr said he drove up from San Diego to watch Thompson work out in Orange County on Thursday, and the Splash Brother looked impressive putting up shots. “It was great to see him,” Kerr told KNBR’s “Tolbert, Kreuger & Brooks” on Friday. “He looked great. He was moving well and, as you would expect, just knocking down [shots]. So, he looked good. He’s not playing ‘live’ yet, he hasn’t done any contact stuff, but that’s kind of the final step and there’s obviously plenty of time for that. He’s right on schedule, and everything’s going well.”

Kerr reiterated Friday that Thompson missing the entire season was a “demoralizing” experience for the All-Star guard. “Because if you love playing that much, then not playing is just devastating,” Kerr said of Thompson. “He really struggled this year not being able to play, and just not knowing what to do … because he couldn’t really do a whole lot in rehab. There was a lot of rest in the beginning, and then the team would go out on the road. Klay loves to be part of the group, bashing on each other and joking around. I just think he really missed everything this year, the whole experience. So I know he can’t wait to get back out there.”

This doesn’t mean Thompson could compete in an NBA game right now. There are many conditioning checkpoints still to be met. Remember how long it took the Warriors to clear Steph Curry for a return from a broken bone in his left hand back in early March? That wasn’t about his hand, which had been medically cleared for full basketball activity for weeks. It was about his entire body needing to rev back up into its traditional basketball shape.

Now that it has been over 11 months since Thompson went under the knife, is he back to 100 percent yet? “I don’t know,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers told reporters on a Monday afternoon conference call. “I think we got to take a look at him when we see him. There’s different versions of 100 percent. “Until we kind of test him and see him and start him in 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 — and the pandemic hasn’t allowed him that opportunity to do those type of things … there’s no rush clearly. “As far as I have heard, he’s recovering fine. There hasn’t been a setback. But one thing that’s been a little bit difficult in the last couple months is our ability to oversee those things as much as you might normally would.”

How’s Klay holding up and what’s the latest on his health? Thompson: “He’s frustrated he can’t work out with his teammates. He just works out on his own like everybody else. He can’t work out with other guys in groups. You have to find a place to shoot on your own and do your own exercises. These guys know what to do. You run your sprints alone and can find an empty gym. Get a key to an empty gym and go shoot. All of these guys have connections to a gym.” Is he fully healthy? Thompson: “I don’t know. He’s walking around fine. Who knows if he’s cleared to play. He has to get that clearance from his doctors and the Warriors. They haven’t talked about that yet.” (Before the NBA suspended the season on March 11, the Warriors had only cleared Thompson for light shooting drills).

He was quite visible on the bench at most home games, but in the Warriors’ day-to-day activities, Klay was a lot less present than Curry has been. Obviously, Klay had his ACL rehab and the frustration of knowing that he couldn’t play this season. And maybe that leads to a very energetic Klay Thompson season in 2020-21. “It’s been a really, really hard season for Klay,” Kerr said. “He loves to play basketball so much and just not being able to play has crushed him. And so he was, unlike Steph, over the last couple, few months, he hasn’t been around as often as Steph was. I was OK with that just because it was so frustrating for Klay just to be at practice watching and not really being able to do anything.

“Finally over the last few weeks he was able to start shooting with our guys, running through some drills and he was so happy to be out there. But for much of the season, it was just about getting away and not torturing himself by watching us play. He’s going to be so ready to play next year and so excited and the rehab is coming along really well, so I have no doubt that assuming everything starts in September and October like it usually does that Klay and Steph will be in great shape and ready to roll.”

That means a young player like Eric Paschall, stationary in a San Francisco apartment, can’t come in to begin the early stages of a planned summer reconstruction of his jumper. It means Klay Thompson must shift his ACL rehab away from the facility with which he’s most comfortable. “Yes, it’s hard,” Myers said of Thompson’s rehab. “Privately, by himself. Maybe with one of our trainers individually at his house. Even my own hip surgery recovery, anything you can do without interacting with somebody. … If you don’t have your own gym (in your house), there’s not really anywhere to go. Most guys don’t have a basketball gym in their house. They might have a weight room.”

Anthony Slater: Klay Thompson said he hasn’t ruled out playing this season, but will be patient: “You may not have seen me much, but I’ve been working.” Full quote on his rehab update here.

First, host Ernie Johnson asked Thompson whether he planned on returning this season, referring to reports from earlier this week that head coach Steve Kerr was skeptical that the shooting guard would play in the inaugural season at Chase Center. “I feel great,” Thompson said. “At this stage of the rehab, I started jogging, running, putting up a lot of jumpers — which are going in at a high rate, still, so that’s a good sign.”

Klay Thompson unlikely to return this season

Ever since Klay Thompson tore his left ACL four months ago, the Warriors guard has held out hope that he could return this season in time for a potential NBA playoff run. His coach, however, isn’t betting on that timeline. “It’s unlikely that he’s going to play this year,” Steve Kerr recently told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive interview that will air at 1 p.m. PT Tuesday in “NBA Season Tip-Off,” only on the MyTeams app. “So we have to understand that.”

Kerr, who tore his ACL in college, believes Thompson will be on the same timeline as those players. “You have to look at it realistically,” the Warriors coach said. “I had an ACL [tear] in college, and I missed a whole season. Generally, an ACL for a basketball player is a full-year recovery, and if it’s a full year for Klay, that puts them out for the season. “We’ve kind of left the door open in case the rehab goes perfectly and the doctors say he can go. But the reality is, on April 1, that’s the nine-month mark. … April versus nine months post-op for an ACL.

The four-time All-Star has no plans to sprint back to the Warriors or set any kind of speed record for returning to the NBA after undergoing ACL surgery. “No, I’m going to do what the team says,” Klay said Monday. “I’ve done my due diligence on rehabs and ACL injuries, and the last thing you want to do is rush back, especially for a player like me who wants to play until he’s in his late 30s. I want to play at a high level until that point, too.” “As much as it kills me not to be on the court, patience is a virtue, and rushing back would be not very smart.”

Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors says he would like to play for Team USA in the 2020 Olympics. One problem: Thompson should not play high-level basketball at all, not for two years. At least that’s what the science says. A paper presented by Dr. Tim Hewett, a consultant who spent the bulk of his career studying the biomechanics of the knee for the Mayo Clinic and as the director of Ohio State’s Sports Health and Performance Institute, and Dr. Christopher Nagelli of the Mayo Clinic, finds that athletes who suffer ACL tears should not return to action for two years.

“I think about that every day,” Thompson said. He sat straight up and shook his head. “That’s just the humbling part of sports — when you feel like you’re at your best, something traumatic can happen. But I honestly felt like I was at the peak of my NBA career up to that point. I was at my best. The way I was shooting the ball, the way I was playing defense. I felt like I was one of the best players out there. In past series, or Finals, you know, I’ve been able to defer. But in that series, I felt like I was just, like, as close to unstoppable as I’ve ever been.”

Mychal Thompson recently talked about his son’s rehab from a ruptured ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on the NBC Sports Bay Area Warriors Insider podcast. “He’s walking normally and he’s very optimistic and enthusiastic about getting back late next season,” Thompson said. Thompson said Klay probably won’t be on the court doing full-court drills until late December or January. That would fall on the early side of the typical recovery period for ACL surgery, which is six to nine months.

“My season is obviously going to start a little differently,” Thompson said. “I’m going to be on offseason mode for a little bit until I can run again. With Kevin leaving and DeMarcus leaving and losing Andre and Shaun, the parity in the league is back. Everyone was trying to catch up to the Warriors the past five years, but now teams have closed the gap, if not taken that leap, so for us getting D’Angelo was huge because in my absence, he’s a proven All-Star and a 20-point guy and great play maker.”
1 year ago via ESPN

“I knew I did something. But I’ve never had the severity of an ACL injury or an injury that bad,” Thompson told ESPN’s Cari Champion in an interview during a “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” promotional event in Los Angeles. “So me personally, I didn’t think it was that bad initially. My adrenaline was so high being Game 6, whatever. I thought I sprained my knee; that’s all I thought it was. But when I went back to the locker room, it swelled up a lot, didn’t feel right. It’s just not a good feeling when you feel helpless and the team’s out there competing.”
1 year ago via ESPN

“We obviously had bumps in the road, but nothing as traumatic as what me and Kevin went through. So it was humbling, but the Warriors showed their loyalty and their respect for me, offering me that five-year deal,” Thomson said of his new $190 million deal. “Jumped on that as soon as I could, just because the history with this team and the franchise it would be so hard to leave. And the feeling of, you know, unfinished business, getting that close in the Finals, or to the fourth championship — tasting it — just being out of reach. It’s the pain of sports, but it’s what keeps me motivated.”

“And I grabbed him and I said, ‘Listen, man. If you’re gonna shoot these free throws…’ — because we didn’t know what it was at that time, we had no idea, he hadn’t been examined — and I said, ‘We don’t know what this is, shoot the free throws, don’t move. Just shoot the free throws and stay there.’ “[Klay said] ‘OK, all right. I got it.’ [He] shoots the free throws and starts running back (laughter). I said, ‘What are you doing?’ Maybe that’s my own fault for trusting. “But that’s the competitor in the guy.”

“Klay is such a polished specimen with his athleticism and his strength, I literally think this will be a small bump in the road for him for the next nine to 12 months as he rehabilitates it,” said Dr. Daniel Kharrazi, an orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles who serves as the team doctor for the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. “He should be able to get back to how he was before. “I know people are freaking out about his career, but I don’t think it’s going to affect his long-term outcome at all. I think he’s going to be back doing exactly what he was doing as soon as he’s done rehabbing his knee.”

The moments left Mychal Thompson feeling sleepless. It did not tamper his optimism, though. His son, Klay, tore an ACL in his left knee and walked out of the arena on crutches. Then, the Warriors lost to the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, hardly the ending they envisioned in their final game at Oracle Arena after winning three NBA titles in the past four years. That only leads to two questions. First, how will this affect Thompson when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 30?

Second, did this mark the end of the Warriors’ dynasty? Not only do the Warriors have questions about Thompson. Kevin Durant is recovering from a surgically repaired right Achilles tendon. The Warriors otherwise have limited purchasing power and a No. 28 pick to bolster their team. Nonetheless, Thompson said that “Klay and Kevin will both be back to wreak havoc among the league.” Thompson also added “the Warriors are far from done.” As for Durant’s free agency? “I always have faith he’ll stay. This is the second-best organization you can play for. Of course, you know what the best one is,” said Thompson who played for the Showtime Lakers and remains a radio analyst for the team’s flagship station. “Why leave a great situation like Golden State? These guys are still going to be championship contenders for years to come.”

“Even though Golden State had some tough injuries the last game and this game, they showed how much heart they have,” Raptors center Marc Gasol said. “What it means to be a championship team. They didn’t make any excuses. They kept playing.” Afterward, Warrior Stephen Curry sat at his locker appearing to be more pained about the team’s injuries than its three-peat hopes and days at Oracle Arena coming to an end. Most of his concern centered on the health of his fellow All-Stars Durant and Thompson. “It’s not good. Klay and KD are two dudes who are supposed to be walking into the best summer of their lives,” Curry told The Undefeated. “It was taken away from them just like that. It’s tough. It is tough. Two really good dudes.”
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