Steve Kerr’s Bold Move to Bench Warriors Star Klay Thompson: ‘He Wasn’t Thrilled’

Warriors coach Steve Kerr reflects

Getty Head coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors looks on before a game.

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted he had been thinking about moving Klay Thompson to the bench for a while.

Such a big move for one of the pillars of their dynasty isn’t to be done in haste. But the Warriors have no more time to waste.

So when Thompson melted down in the key moment of their home loss against the Kawhi Leonard-less Los Angeles Clippers, Kerr found the perfect time to finally pull off the bold move that could make or break their season.

“I’ve been thinking about it and you know the lineup with Brandin [Podziemski] out there with [Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry] has been by far our best lineup,” Kerr told reporters after the Thompson came off the bench in the Warriors’ 140-137 win over the Utah Jazz on February 15. “BP [Podziemski] connects the game. He rebounds he does some things that really help the other guys and I’ve been thinking about it. I decided to do it [Thursday night] and talk to Klay this morning and I thought he handled everything beautifully.”

Podziemski continued his impressive rookie season as he had 13 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists as Thompson’s replacement in the starting lineup.

Klay Thompson Wasn’t Thrilled About Demotion

Kerr’s gambit paid off.

Thompson came off the bench for the first time since his rookie year and played the best game of the most challenging season of his storied career. The 34-year-old Thompson knocked down 7 of 13 3-pointers, clustering 10 and 18 points, respectively, in the first and third quarters.

“The way he came out determined, competitive — that’s not easy,” Kerr said. “To come off the bench for the first time [in 12 years], that’s difficult but Klay is a champion. He’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met and he responded accordingly and played a great, great game.”

“He was just being himself but I think the fuel that fed his competitiveness was the decision that I made and he wasn’t thrilled about it. But I didn’t expect him to be thrilled about it but as I said he’s just such a competitor.”

Klay Thompson Is the Warriors’ New 6th Man

Kerr said Thompson will stay as the Warriors’ 6th Man moving forward.

“It doesn’t mean it’s permanent but as I said I like that lineup with BP and the other four and Klay coming off the bench gives us a lot of firepower. We’ll give it a little look and we’ll see how it goes from there,” Kerr said.

The Warriors’ new starting unit with Podziemski is plus-26.5 points in 219 possessions, according to Cleaning The Glass, which filters garbage minutes. In contrast, the starting five with Thompson is only plus-9.8 points in 286 possessions, per Cleaning The Glass.

Kerr is hopeful that Thompson will find consistency in his new role.

“It’s been a tricky season for him and us,” Kerr said. “There’s a lot of transition happening. Some of our younger guys are coming on. It’s not as easy to do what Klay did five, six years ago for him. I think this could be a good balance to get the best out of Klay and to get the best out of our team.”

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