Klay Thompson is counting down the days until he returns to the Golden State Warriors — and may have just revealed a big hint about exawhen that could be.
Thompson has moved into the final stages of rehab for the torn Achilles that wiped out all of last season. It has been more than two years since Thompson last stepped onto the court, as he also suffered a torn ACL during the 2019 NBA Finals that wiped out all of the 2019-20 season. An NBA insider believes his return is now a matter of days, and Thompson may have confirmed that idea.
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Return Date Targeted
After initial reports that Thompson could be back with the Warriors sometime before Christmas, his return has been pushed back a bit but may now be within sight. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Warriors are looking at Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, though a final decision will be made later in the week after the team completes back-to-back games in Dallas and New Orleans.
“The Warriors and Thompson — a five-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion — had targeted two home dates in January (Sunday vs. Cleveland and Jan. 18 vs. Detroit),” Wojnarowski reported, “but barring a setback, there’s increased optimism that his return will come in Sunday’s game at the Chase Center, sources said.”
Thompson himself may have confirmed that date. As he was leaving the court following Monday’s win over the Miami Heat, he raised his hands in the air and held up six fingers. Video was shared by NBC Sports, which speculated that Thompson could be signaling that there are just six days left until his return, which would confirm the game against the Cavaliers.
Thompson Returns to Starting Lineup
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said that he doesn’t plan on easing Thompson back into the starting lineup, saying he will be ready to go full time as soon as he’s healthy enough.
“Klay’s gonna start when he comes back,” Kerr said. “I’m not gonna mess around, bring him off the bench for a period of time, I’m not doing any of that. He’s gonna start.”
Thompson has been ramping up his rehab working and showing some impressive results. Before the team’s game on New Year’s Day, Thompson made 24 consecutive three-pointers during a shoot-around.
Thompson has also been able to rejoin teammates on the road, even joining them for pre-game warmups. Kerr added that Thompson is starting to grow excited as his return to the court moves closer to reality.
“We could sense it on the road trip last week he was real excited,” Kerr said after the team’s win over the Heat on Monday, via ESPN. “He’s in a great place mentally, physically, and spiritually.”
Thompson has also appeared to grow emotional as his return date grew closer. After a win over the Portland Trail Blazers in November, Thompson remained on the bench for 30 minutes with a towel draped over his head. Coaches and teammates eventually gathered around Thompson to show their support, and Steph Curry said that said a lot about him as a competitor.
“Super proud of the way he’s just approached this two-year window because unless he wants to write a book and tell every step of the way, nobody will understand what he’s been through away from the game so long,” Curry said, via The Athletic. “And it shows how much this game matters to him. It’s rare these days to have somebody as pure as Klay just feel every bit of what basketball brings to him.”