The Draymond Green-Jordan Poole fight that overshadowed all of last year wound up with Poole having a subpar season followed by an awful postseason, and getting traded to Washington. Andrew Wiggins’ potential free agency was headed off with a contract extension last October. The free-spending Warriors created what they hope will be long-term luxury-tax relief by acquiring Chris Paul, whose contract is not guaranteed after this year.
And they avoided a bidding war for free-agent Draymond Green by locking him up to a four-year, $100 million deal this summer.
But one problem is lurking for the team: An extension for guard Klay Thompson, who can become a free agent next summer.
Team owner Joe Lacob addressed the issue with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic this week, saying that negotiations are in the very early stages: “We’ve had some very brief discussions at this point with his agent. But they’re very, very early. … I fully expect that we’ll have some substantial discussions soon sometime and we’ll see if we can’t put something together that allows Klay to be here for a long time, which we clearly would like him to be.”
Will Thompson Ask for a Max Deal?
Thompson, now 33 years old, is coming off a season in which he appeared fully back to his usual self after undergoing knee and Achilles tendon surgeries in 2019 and 2020. He averaged 21.9 points, 43.6% shooting, and 41.2% 3-point shooting, and ESPN reported in May that Thompson feels worthy of a max contract, one worth $270 million over five years.
He won’t get that, especially not after the Warriors cut back on pay to Wiggins and Green. How much, exactly, Thompson will get is still anybody’s guess.
One Western Conference executive told Heavy Sports last month that Thompson could land between $24 million and $35 million per year.
“You can make the case he is not that far off of a Michael Porter Jr. ($33 million next year) or a C.J. McCollum ($35 million next year) and those guys make a lot of money obviously,” the executive said. “He could be lumped into the contracts that guys like R.J. Barrett ($24 million) and Tyler Herro ($27 million) got last year but they’re younger. They’re also not as good.
“So it is tricky to say where his number will land. But they’re getting to where you start having these conversations seriously, so it is about to get real for them.”
Lacob Preaching Patience on Thompson Deal
True, it is about to get real. But training camp is still a month away, and it is likely the two sides won’t start talking in earnest until days before the preseason begins.
“Look, it’s August and there’s plenty of time to work all this out,” Lacob said. “His contract doesn’t expire until next year. We love him and I know he knows we love him. And we’re going to try to do something here for the rest of his career.”
Certainly, moving off the money the team owed to Poole, who was in the first of a four-year, $140 million contract, will help in retaining Thompson. That’s because the team got Paul in the Poole swap, and Paul’s $30 million for next year is completely nonguaranteed.
The Warriors can drop that money off their books, then, and instead focus on keeping Thompson in place. It won’t be easy with the league’s new punitive CBA rules on the luxury tax, but it can—and probably will—get done.