May 29, 2024
At season’s end, Thompson will hit free agency, meaning he might never wear a Warriors uniform again.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Since he was drafted in 2011, the Warriors are the only organization Klay Thompson has known.

His 13-year tenure has included two head coaches and two home arenas. It has spanned 951 games, four championships and two monumental leg injuries — the highs and lows. A single-game record 14 3-pointers and almost 3,000 total triples. In blue and gold, he became both Game 6 Klay and Captain Klay: a future Hall of Famer worthy of a statue outside Chase Center and a beloved fan favorite.

A loss in the play-in round to Sacramento on Tuesday — or on Friday if they win — could end it all abruptly. At season’s end, Thompson will hit free agency for the first time since 2019, meaning he might never wear a Warriors uniform again.

That must be tough to compartmentalize, no?

“No, that’s life, man,” Thompson said at the Warriors’ shootaround in Golden 1 Center. “I’ve had so much success here, I’m not going to let whatever happens in the future make me salty about what I’ve been able to accomplish in a Warriors uniform. So I don’t let that seep in at all.”

Thompson has expressed consistent interest in returning to the Warriors. But extension negotiations stalled when he reportedly turned down a two-year, $48 million offer last summer. He probably deserved a bigger payday at the time, then earned an even larger one with his play this year.

Klay Thompson isn’t concerned about his upcoming free agency/potential last game as a Warrior

“Nah. That’s life, man. Had so much success here not gonna let whatever happens in the future make me salty about what I’ve been able to accomplish in a Warriors uniform.” pic.twitter.com/acCtAP7CYC

— KNBR (@KNBR) April 16, 2024

Thompson struggled at the outset of the season — he admitted on The Draymond Green Show that contract talks were hanging heavy — and got removed from the starting lineup right before the All-Star break. But since then, Thompson has been the type of efficient, malleable player any team could fit in.

Off the bench or as a starter, Thompson has thrived in the second half. In two fewer minutes compared to before the All-Star break, Thompson is averaging more points and assists per game in the second half. He’s shooting 41.2% from 3 and 45.4% overall since the break.

Thompson’s 38.7% mark from 3 was the lowest of his career, but he’s still an elite shooter. He led the NBA in free throw percentage and hit the fourth-most 3s in the league. He finished the season with three 25-point games in Golden State’s final four tilts.

“I feel great, I feel like I play my best basketball in February, March and April,” Thompson said. “That’s a good sign, it’s better than doing the opposite — starting hot and finishing cold. So that’s a silver lining for myself, is just continuing what I’ve been doing because I’ve been playing the best I’ve played all year.”

There will be teams interested in Thompson, even after his injuries and as he’s past his prime. The Warriors, who are expected to cut their payroll back in an effort to dip under the luxury tax threshold, may not be the highest bidder.

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The stakes are high for everyone in the Warriors’ play-in game. The winner will travel to the loser of Lakers-Pelicans for a shot at a real playoff series against Oklahoma City. The loser’s season is over.

Those stakes might be bigger for Thompson personally than anyone else.

“At the end of the day, it’s just basketball,” Thompson. “Hasn’t changed since we were rookies. So I’m excited to get out there. Just got to remember who you are, and that’s a champ. Never count out a champion.”

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