Dubs head coach Steve Kerr on Sunday raised questions about just how ready Thompson is for unrestricted, full contact practice sessions — a crucial step on the long path back to an actual NBA game, which has now spanned nearly two and a half years for the All-Star shooting guard.
Mark Haynes, the brother of Yahoo Sports NBA reporter Chris Haynes and a Warriors reporter for @ClutchPointsApp, took to Twitter on Sunday, November 21 with comments from Kerr indicating that Thompson’s return timeline remains murkier than many now believe.
“Steve Kerr said nobody has told him Klay Thompson is fully cleared to practice with the team,” Haynes wrote.
He added to the tweet the following direct quote from Kerr: “I don’t know where that came from.”
Kerr Challenges Reporting of The Athletic’s Charania, Slater
The reporting Kerr disputed Sunday originated with Shams Charania and Anthony Slater, both NBA insiders for The Athletic. Slater is dialed in specifically to Golden State, while Charania is akin to an Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN type, reporting stories across the NBA landscape as a free floating news breaker. Both are generally considered highly credible sources of NBA information.
In a piece authored by the two men and published Sunday morning, Charania and Slater cite unnamed “sources” within the Warriors organization who told them that not only is Thompson slated for full contact at practice moving forward, but that he is on track to return to game action before Christmas.
“Klay Thompson came through well after a week of 5-on-5 scrimmaging and has been cleared to be a full-time participant in all future Warriors’ practices, sources tell The Athletic,” the article stated. “Thompson is trending toward a potential return the week before Christmas Day, those sources said.”
A Study in Semantics, What Kerr Actually Said and What he Didn’t
Questioning the reporting around something as sensitive as the return of a player like Thompson is not uncommon in the NBA, or anywhere in professional sports.
Sometimes that is because reports are inaccurate either due to bad sources or incomplete and/or poorly relayed pieces of information. While these issues can be problems for any member of the media, regardless of how experienced, for Charania and Slater to jointly apply their bylines to a piece containing such an error on a story about a franchise with which they are both so familiar strains credulity. It isn’t impossible, just unlikely.
Another reason could be the story’s sources are high-ranking members of the front office and that Kerr simply had yet to hear the news, also unlikely.
A third reason could be that whoever passed along the information was not supposed to do so, and now Kerr is trying to cover the team’s tracks. The inspiration for a move like this, if it is what actually occurred, could be as simple as managing expectations — the time-tested notion of under-promise and over-deliver.
Negative narratives might arise if Thompson suffers a setback and can’t return to the court until February or March. Such developments could have an impact on the psyche of a player who has spent more than two full seasons rehabilitating from devastating injuries suffered one after the other.
Or, perhaps, members of the Golden State organization believe that setting any timeline in stone puts pressure on Thompson to try and force the issue and meet some needless expectation, which could result in a new physical problem that derails his progress.
There are less important consequences, too, like a roiled fan base impatient because it’s starved for a full roster, or could be angry if it feels it was misled on Thompson, might also be considerations. However, Golden State’s NBA-best start of 14-2 would probably go a long way toward satiating any upset members of Dub Nation.
This too, of course, is all speculation. The point is that Charania and Slater wrote that Thompson is a full-go for practice contact and will be back in a month, give or take. At the very least, Kerr doesn’t want that information permeating the national narrative surrounding his star shooting guard.
But, and this is important, that doesn’t mean the information isn’t true.
As Monte Poole, of NBC Sports Bay Area, noted on Twitter Sunday, Kerr never actually denied the reporting. He said only that he “didn’t know where that came from.” Semantics matter, and the way Kerr said what he said puts doubt on the Thompson report without actually denying the truth of it.
In the end, it is all probably much ado about nothing. Everyone inside and outside the organization is just excited to see the Warriors band get back together, Thompson chief among that group. And regardless of any reporting, or any reaction from Golden State to that reporting, the NBA universe is on track to see the roster whole sooner than later.
All good things.