Klay Thompson and the four Golden State Warriors All-Stars have landed in his home city of Los Angeles for the weekend. Without missing a beat, the first questions lobbed Thompson’s way from the media surrounded his pending free agency. The four-time All-Star is slated to hit the open market following next season, and there’s been rumblings that Golden State might not be able to retain him.
As of now, those are just rumblings. But with Thompson back in his old stomping grounds and the Lakers expected to be big-time players in free agency in the next couple summers, it’s logical others would want to know where he stands.
Not to disappoint fans in Southern California, but it seems that Thompson’s heart is set on finishing his career with the Warriors. When asked whether he wanted to remain in Golden State, Thompson’s response was not terribly surprising.
“Absolutely. Playing for one team your whole career is definitely special,” the sharpshooter said, via Mark Medina of The Mercury News. “Only so many guys have done it in professional sports, so it’ll be a goal of mine. Hopefully it all works out.”
It’s what Klay said next that’s most surprising.
“Anything I can do to stay with the Warriors is first and foremost,” Thompson continued. “God willing, it happens. If not, I don’t even think about that.”
Some have speculated that Thompson might want to join a team where he can be the No. 1 option. With former MVPs Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on the defending champs, that’s not a possibility in Oakland. Though, Klay’s comments pretty much mirror what his father said on the topic just recently (more on that here).
The issue here is payroll. After maxing out Curry last summer, the Warriors are likely going to have to hand Durant a super-max deal come July. This puts the team’s ownership in a major bind — as it will have a projected $400 million payroll moving forward should Golden State’s core pieces remain in place.
It’s not that this ownership group isn’t willing to spend a ton of money out of its own pocket to keep this championship team together. With a new waterfront arena in San Francisco set to open in 2019-20, revenue will continue to flow in here.
Instead, the idea of paying three max contracts to primarily perimeter threats might not be the best use of money. It’s in this that reports have surfaced that the Warriors will chase after Anthony Davis on the trade block during the summer. The key piece that would have to head over to New Orleans in said deal is Thompson.
So while Thompson might want to remain with the Warriors for the remainder of his career, it’s most definitely not a foregone conclusion that will be the end result. But as we saw with Durant last summer when he took a pay cut, these stars seem willing to put the team before their own financial interests. Curry himself being vastly underpaid during the Warriors’ two championship runs is another example of this. Thompson seems willing to fall in line.