He may have retired in 2019, but former Golden State Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia, the team’s current executive, has been helping with the rehabilitation of Klay Thompson.
Speaking on 95.7 The Game on Tuesday, November 23, Pachulia explained the process that Thompson is currently working through while his teammates are on an East Coast road trip.
“Once the team was gone on the East Coast road trip, I spent a lot of time in the gym with Klay and James, and they look great, and they feel great. Klay obviously is cleared for full contact. He played some of the 3-on-3, 5-on-5 games. I played with Klay. One thing I didn’t realize until now, the last time Klay and I played the game together, and we haven’t played since 2019.”
Pachulia played for the Warriors between 2016 and 2018, winning two NBA championships during his stay. Now, in a front-office position, the former fan-favorite is relishing training with his old teammate again.
“Obviously, I retired, and he got injured. And we were back on the court together. It felt so good, honestly, I enjoyed my last week. It was great. Playing with the guy and setting the screen for him, some back-door passes and getting him wide-open on the 3-point shot and between the leg passes. It was amazing. He is coming along and he is motivated and he is moving really well,” Pachulia said.
Klay Thompson on Track for Return Around Christmas
On Sunday, November 21, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Thompson had been cleared to participate in Warriors practices before teasing a potential return date for the Warriors’ second splash brother.
Klay Thompson has missed over two years of his NBA career due to suffering two concurrent and horrific injuries. First, Thompson tore the ACL in his left leg, followed by an injury to the Achilles in his right leg.
“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,” Charania wrote.
Thomspon’s absence has been a crippling loss to the Warriors at times, but with his impending return, the splash brothers will likely hit their stride as the playoffs roll around, and we all know how that story usually ends.
The Warriors Are Currently Flying High
After 17 games of the NBA season, the Warriors occupy 1st place in the Western Conference and sit atop the league in net rating, according to NBA Stats. With Thompson due to return, Steve Kerr and his team will feel incredibly confident of dispelling LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers or the Phoenix Suns in the playoffs, with those two teams being the Warriors’ primary competition for a final appearance.
Yet, it’s important to note that while Thompson has been around the team and the practice facility during his rehab, the players he’ll be sharing the floor with aren’t the same as those he last called his teammates.
Since Thompson’s injury, the Warriors roster has drastically changed. Kevin Durant is no longer suiting up next to Steph Curry, and in his place is Andrew Wiggins, who has grown into his role with the team over the last few months. The Warriors also boast a young core of highly talented sophomores and rookies, courtesy of some intelligent trade decisions in recent years.
However, there’s still another month or so until we finally get to witness Thompson’s return. Until then, he will likely continue to work out with Pachulia and other team members who are recovering from injury, such as James Wiseman.
One thing is for sure though, Thompson’s return will be a Christmas present for the ages, not just for Warriors fans, but for NBA fans around the world. The league is a better place when both splash brothers are causing havoc, and we’re about to bear witness to yet another chapter in their story.