Warriors Dubbed Best Fit for Klay Thompson Amid IG Drama

Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors.

Getty Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors and Klay Thompson appear to have grown further apart in recent days, which might prove exceedingly poor timing for the franchise.

Thompson scrubbed Warriors images and references from his Instragram account on Saturday, June 15, which has intensified already widespread speculation that this summer could see Thompson leave the Bay Area for the first time in his 13-year NBA career.

Also on Saturday, Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report released a list of the best and worst destinations for five big-name free agents. The group included Thompson, and Hughes suggested that the ideal outcome for both the four-time champion shooting guard and the Warriors is a reunion.

Practically speaking, the Warriors need Thompson. They have the ability to get under the luxury tax, but they still won’t have the resources to replace even the diminished production he provided in 2023-24. Still committed to a win-now stance for at least the two remaining years of Stephen Curry’s current contract, the Dubs aren’t in a position to let key contributors walk.

Of course the emotional component looms largest. Thompson’s exit would mark the end of an era in Golden State, breaking up the most successful trio in franchise history. As long as Curry is around, echoes of the dynasty will be audible, but Thompson’s absence would quiet them considerably.

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Getty Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors.

If there is to be a reunion, however, it must come at the right price — and that’s a two-way street.

Thompson averaged just shy of 18 points and just shy of 39% from behind the 3-point line across 9 attempts per game last season, according to Basketball Reference. As Hughes noted, that may be a reduction in production by Thompson’s future Hall-of-Fame standards, but most teams will still covet a three-and-D wing who demands that much respect from opposing defenses.

Thompson, 34, can still spread the floor with the best in the league and could probably still be the third- or fourth-best player on a legitimate title contender. All that said, the Warriors can no longer pay him for past performance.

Golden State already did that when the franchise inked Thompson to a five-year deal worth almost $190 million just weeks after he tore his ACL during the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors in 2019. Thompson went on to miss the next two and a half seasons, suffering an Achilles tear while rehabilitating from knee surgery.

It is true he hasn’t been the same guy since, particularly defensively, but Thompson still has significant value. It’s not the $43 million he made last year, but it’s probably worth at least $20 million per season over the next few campaigns.

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Klay Thompson, Warriors

Getty Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors.

Thompson turned down an offer of two years and $48 million from the Warriors ahead of last season, which offers an indicator of where he wants to slot in based on annual average salary. It’s also a safe bet that Thompson will want what most star players get in their contracts — deals longer than two years with a player option on the final season.

Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus predicted Friday that Thompson will end up with the Orlando Magic on a three-year deal in free agency that pays him upwards of $82 million in total. Pincus added that the suggested amount is higher than the Dubs will be willing to go to keep Thompson around considering the resulting implications of luxury taxes and impeded roster flexibility over the next two or three seasons.

However, if the Warriors do move on from Thompson and Chris Paul, that will remove approximately $74 million in salary from their 2023-24 books. That kind of extra freedom could allow Golden State to pursue a trade for a bonafide star to place alongside Curry and Draymond Green, creating a new Big 3 for a couple of final runs before the front office has to hit the reset button on the entire franchise.

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