Warriors’ Klay Thompson Linked to 2 Teams Amid ‘Strained’ Relationship with Joe Lacob

Warriors star Klay Thompson weighs free agency plans

Getty Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors reacts during the first quarter of the game against the Boston Celtics.

Golden State Warriors‘ demoted swingman Klay Thompson has been linked to two Eastern Conference teams as he enters unrestricted free agency this summer.

Suppose the Warriors follow through on Joe Lacob‘s plan to duck the luxury tax next season. In that case, teams with cap space such as the Philadelphia 76ers and the Orlando Magic can lure Thompson with a big contract, according to Bleacher Report’s salary cap guru Eric Pincus.

“The Warriors seem intent on getting below the luxury tax (or at least the second apron) this offseason. If so, Thompson is looking at a significant pay cut in free agency, which may lead to him looking elsewhere for better offers (perhaps from the Philadelphia 76ers or Orlando Magic),” Pincus wrote on February 27.

Thompson was removed from his starting spot for the first time in 12 years before the All-Star break, adding another layer of intrigue to his upcoming free agency.

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Thompson’s relationship with the Warriors ownership suffered after their extension negotiation last summer.

Thompson always knew he would likely have to wait until his free agency arrived this summer, what with Lacob’s well-chronicled hopes of ducking under the second (and possibly first) luxury tax apron compelling them to let the roster landscape fully unfold before adding salary. But it’s clear their relationship has suffered some strain along the way, with league sources indicating that Thompson has received no assurances from on high that his hopes of retiring happily in a Warriors jersey someday will be a shared priority this summer. Both sides, it seems clear, have no clarity about what might happen when that time rolls around.

Klay Thompson Yelled at Coaching Staff After Demotion

The demotion did not initially sit well with Thompson, Kerr revealed in an ESPN report on February 29.

Kerr told ESPN that Thompson yelled at him and some of the assistants. Later, he came back to apologize to the coaches.

“It was not an easy conversation,” Kerr said. “This is maybe the hardest part about getting further away from our prime. It’s just, after 12 years [of Thompson starting], it wasn’t easy.

“And still moving forward, it’s not going to be easy. But I told him, ‘If you really embrace it, you can help your team win.'”

Thompson acknowledged his mistake after his debut in his new role as the Warriors’ 6th Man on February 15 against the Utah Jazz.

“I embraced it before tip-off,” Thompson told reporters after scoring 35 points in his first game off the bench under Kerr. “I deserved it really. I didn’t respond to not playing at the end of the game well last [February 14] night. I kind of took it out on the assistant coaches and I apologize to those guys before the game. And I think that really let my guard down, let me just be myself out there.”

Potential Warriors Offer

According to Pincus, the Warriors still have a way to re-sign Thompson without reaching the second apron.

“Assume Paul is let go for financial sanity. His $30 million salary (currently non-guaranteed) can be used in trade should the Warriors choose to stay above the second apron (limiting the team to minimum players). Without Paul, Thompson can return in the $20-27 million starting salary range, giving the Warriors the TMLE,” Pincus wrote on March 1.

Draymond Green, whose impact currently outweighs Thompson’s this season, will earn $24 million next season in the second year of his four-year, $100 million contract he signed last summer.

The question the Warriors will to have answer is should they pay that much for a role player in their second unit?

“But Golden State may try to duck the tax entirely, which may mean the end of the era of the Splash Brothers—at which point the team could use the NTMLE and still stay below the threshold,” Pincus added.