Warriors’ Klay Thompson Clears Major Hurdle, Return Date Now in Sight

Klay Thompson

Getty Klay Thompson on the court during the 2019 NBA Finals.

After more than two years without Klay Thompson, the Golden State Warriors are now within weeks of finally getting their All-Star guard back to the court.

Thompson just cleared one of the major remaining hurdles in his rehab from a torn Achilles suffered close to one year ago. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Thompson has gone through a week of five-on-five scrimmaging without a hitch, and has now been cleared to fully participate in team practices again. That means his return to the court could be less than a month away, Charania added.

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Warriors May Get Early Christmas Present

As Charania reported, Thompson’s return to team practices means that he could likely return a bit ahead of schedule. His rehab has moved along to schedule since the end of last season, with many insiders predicting that he would be back for the team’s Christmas Day game against the Phoenix Suns. Charania now predicts that Thompson could be back even sooner.

The Warriors have been getting Thompson some tough competition, Charania added. The Warriors have tapped NBA free agent Dante Exum as a participant in Thompson’s five-on-five scrimmages, where Thompson has turned in some strong performances.

Even without Thompson and second-year center James Wiseman, himself working his way back from a knee injury that cut short his rookie season, the Warriors have been able to jump out to a league-best 14-2 record.

Thompson Could Have Slow Return

While his return date is now in sight, Thompson may not step into a significant role just yet. As Charania noted, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has been a proponent of the slow approach to Achilles rehab, praising the Brooklyn Nets for how they paced star Kevin Durant in his own return. While Thompson is set to come back roughly 13 months after suffering his injury, Durant took a full 18 months between his Achilles tear and his return to the court.

“(Brooklyn) did a smart job last year pacing him,” Kerr said, via Charania.

Thompson’s return also means that the rotation will likely tighten, wrote The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami. Kerr has already made it known that some players will see diminished roles, though the decisions could be difficult as the team has gotten strong contributions from depth players like Gary Payton II, Nemanja Bjelica, and Otto Porter Jr.

Kerr said he wants players to embrace the approach that helped the Warriors reach the NBA Finals in five consecutive seasons, with all players ready to contribute when called upon.

“I’ve already talked to the players about the whole concept of ‘Strength in Numbers’ and where we were six years ago,” Kerr said, via Kawakami. “I’ve made them aware that there were nights that Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa did not play a ton, if not at all. And those guys are 15-year, great players. So this is what it takes to be kind of a special group. And it’s not easy on anybody, but that’s what it takes.”

Kerr added that the rotation will likely change, with all players eventually getting their chances to contribute.

“But the season also has a way of ironing some things out. You almost always have some injuries, knock on wood,” Kerr said. “Things happen and everybody ends up getting their opportunities at some point. If everyone just commits and sticks together, then the whole group can be really happy. And that happened here for many years when we had those deep teams.”

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