Tricky Klay Thompson Contract Situation ‘About to Get Real’ for Warriors: NBA Exec

Klay Thompson of the Warriors

Getty Klay Thompson of the Warriors

There wasn’t much controversy when the Warriors handed Klay Thompson a five-year, $190 million extension back in 2019, despite the fact that Thompson was coming off a torn ACL suffered during the NBA Finals. But Thompson missed the first year of that contract, then missed another year recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in 2020.

Coming off a season in which Thompson, now 33 years old, appeared fully returned to form (21.9 points, 43.6% shooting, 41.2% 3-point shooting), he is eligible to sign an extension with the Warriors. ESPN reported in May that Thompson feels worthy of a max contract, one worth $270 million over five years.

Around the league, the feeling is that at his age he won’t get that. But he ranks with players who get pretty significant salaries.

“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,” one Western Conference executive told Heavy Sports. “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.”

Poole Trade Clears Way for Thompson Deal

Certainly, the Warriors’ trade for Chris Paul, sending out shooter Jordan Poole, makes it all but certain that the Warriors will re-sign Thompson, whether on an extension this summer or in free agency next year. Paul’s contract is not guaranteed after this season, meaning the Warriors can get out of the money owed to him and have a bit more breathing room to keep Thompson while finally getting back to a reasonable luxury-tax situation. It’s even possible the Warriors could re-sign Thompson and avoid the tax altogether.

“When they had Poole and Klay together, I think there was a real dilemma about which one they were going to keep, whether they could keep both and keep Draymond (Green) too, and how they would proceed going forward,” the exec said. “They were looking at all options, really.”

That included the possibility of having to trade away Green, or lose him to free agency. There was much chatter around the league about the Lakers having interest, and about the Pistons, Green’s hometown team, making an offer. Thompson would have been in the same situation, except that Poole is now gone and the way is clear for him to stay.

Playoff Flop Led to Poole Trade

The trade of Poole was not predetermined by any stretch. The postseason helped solidify him as expendable, though. He averaged just 10.3 points on 32.1% shooting.

“Poole was awful in the playoffs,” the exec said. “I don’t think all this stuff about everyone hating him, that kind of garbage is not fair. It was performance with him. He did not perform when it mattered, again, and that made it pretty easy to make the case to trade him and create a little more flexibility to keep Klay and Draymond. The Chris Paul thing is a nice experiment they can try for a year, basically. But it’s going to be about keeping Klay.

“Now they’ve just got to figure out how much—they could do that now, but it is a good bet that they wait until next summer to do it.”

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