The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement is expected to make contract extensions for veteran players more common, by loosening the restrictions on those deals, and – in some cases – making them more lucrative. Speaking to Sam Amick of USA Today, Klay Thompson was asked about the possibility of signing an extension a couple summers from now and potentially spending his entire career in Golden State — the sharpshooter sounded very much on board with the idea.
“I try not to think that far ahead, but I’d love to be here for as long as I can,” Thompson said. “What we’ve built here is so special, and I love living in the Bay Area, so that would be a huge priority of mine … I just feel like if I play hard and work hard every day, I’ll get rewarded no matter what I do, so I’m not going to get caught up with the numbers and how much money I could potentially make because it’ll all come around. You’ve just got to stay humble and be appreciative of what I have. And if I keep working this hard, I’ll be rewarded.”
Thompson, who is earning $16.63MM this season, is under contract through the 2018/19 campaign, so there should be no urgency on his part or on the Warriors’ part to get something done anytime soon. The new CBA will allow him to become extension-eligible on July 1, but the Warriors will prioritize new deals for Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant at that point, since both players figure to become unrestricted free agents.
Still, Thompson’s case for an extension will be a fascinating one to keep an eye on going forward. Curry is viewed as a lock to receive a designated veteran extension worth 35% of the cap from Golden State this summer, and while Durant isn’t eligible for a designated veteran extension, his 10 years of NBA experience will put him in line for a max-salary deal worth 35% of the cap as well.
As for Thompson, he would be eligible for a designated player extension in the summer of 2018, as he enters his eighth year of service, but only if he earns a spot on an All-NBA team this season or next season. Thompson was named to to the NBA’s All-NBA Third Team in 2015/16, but there will be plenty of competition going forward.
In additions to last year’s group of All-NBA guards – Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry, Chris Paul, and Damian Lillard – backcourt stars like James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, and John Wall will make a strong case for consideration this year, which may leave Thompson on the outside looking in.
If he doesn’t earn an All-NBA nod this season or next season, Thompson wouldn’t be eligible for a designated veteran extension in 2018, though he could sign a new deal worth up to 30% of the cap, if the Warriors had the necessary cap space. At that point, assuming Curry, Durant, and Draymond Green are all still on the roster, the Warriors would have to assess whether it makes sense to keep all four players on massive contracts. Green’s current deal runs through the 2019/20 season.
For now, with two and a half years left on his current contract, Thompson probably isn’t interested in looking too far into the future. But if his enthusiasm for sticking with the Warriors long-term remains as strong in a year or two, it will create an interesting situation. The new designated veteran extension makes it easier for teams to retain a superstar player and reward them with more lucrative deals, but when a club has three or four stars deserving of huge, long-term contracts, those costs will quickly add up and could lead to some difficult decisions.