Warriors’ 4-Time Champion Linked to Deal With Hometown Team & $225 Million Star

Klay Thompson (right), Warriors

Getty Klay Thompson (right), Warriors

For much of his career as an NBA superstar, one thing that Blazers guard Damian Lillard has lacked has been a backcourt partner who can provide two-way help, a legit shooter who can also be a perimeter stopper.

Maybe he could get it—eventually, at least. That is, if he is willing to wait on Warriors star Klay Thompson to hit free agency, which will happen in 2024. Thompson is still two years from the end of his current $190 million contract, signed after he tore his ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals, and he’s slated to be 34 years old when free agency comes around for him.

Lillard will be 34 then, too, though he will be in the midst of a contract that, with his recently signed extension, will pay him $225 million through 2027. Perhaps Thompson would be the perfect guy for Lillard to team with at the end of their careers.

That could happen with two contingencies: First, the Warriors’ impending contract crunch (Draymond Green, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins and Thompson will all need new deals in the next two years) will force Golden State to make a tough choice and let at least one key player leave, and that would have to be Thompson in this scenario; second, the Blazers would have to maintain enough cap space to sign Thompson.

Thompson Would Prefer to Remain a Warrior

To be clear, Thompson would not hit the free-agent market in 2024 willingly. Here’s how one league executive explained it to Heavy Sports:

The first thing is, he is not going to want to leave there voluntarily. If you ask around the league, I don’t think there are many players who are happier in their situations than Klay Thompson is in the Bay Area, playing for the Warriors. But they have tough decisions and if one of the decisions is that, after this contract is up, they let Klay walk, he should have some choices. I think, sentimentally, they are going to keep him but if you are talking about losing (Jordan) Poole or (Andrew) Wiggins or even Draymond (Green) in order to keep a 34-year-old Klay Thompson, if you’re making the decision strictly on basketball, you know … you’d have to let Klay go.

And they could justify it. It’s not like they’ve treated Klay badly—they gave him almost $200 million a couple weeks after he tore his ACL and they knew he would be out for a year. Maybe he’d take a big discount to stay, he is a little off-beat like that, I am not sure getting every penny he can is what drives him.

But sure, look, if they let him go, even at 34, he is going to have teams who want him.

Portland Could Make Sense for Klay

Thing is, among the teams that would want him, Portland would certainly appeal to Thompson. He spent the bulk of his childhood just south of the city, growing up in Lake Oswego before leaving for California to attend high school. He went back to the Pacific Northwest for college, playing for Washington State.

That’s why teaming up with Lillard, especially if he can get back to being his old self, would have considerable appeal for Thompson. It could depend on what Portland does with other free agents, too.

“That would be tough because Portland might not have much money depending on what they do with (Jerami) Grant and I just don’t know how competitive they’ll be with (Damian) Lillard at 34, 35 years old and making $50 million a year,” the exec said. “If he is going to leave the Warriors, he is still going to want to win. If Lillard bounces back, I like (Portland) for him. Big ‘if,’ though.”

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