3:24pm: Speaking today to reporters, including Anthony Slater of The Athletic and ESPN’s Nick Friedell (Twitter links), Kerr clarified that he wasn’t announcing any news on Thompson, and that it’s still possible the All-Star guard will be back this season. Kerr explained that he was just doing the math on typical ACL recoveries.
“I probably opened up a can of worms with that comment,” the Warriors’ head coach said, per Friedell (Twitter link). “… We’ll leave the door open at the end of the year and see what happens.”
9:23am: The Warriors have ruled out sharpshooter Klay Thompson until at least the All-Star break as he recovers from a torn ACL, and head coach Steve Kerr doesn’t sound like he’s counting on Thompson to return at that point. Speaking to Logan Murdock of NBC Sports Bay Area, Kerr said it’s “unlikely” that Thompson will play this season.
“You have to look at it realistically,” Kerr said. “I had an ACL [tear] in college, and I missed a whole season. Generally, an ACL for a basketball player is a full-year recovery, and if it’s a full year for Klay, that puts them out for the season.
“We’ve kind of left the door open in case the rehab goes perfectly and the doctors say he can go. But the reality is, on April 1, that’s the nine-month mark. … April versus nine months post-op for an ACL.”
Thompson’s recovery timeline could hinge in part on how the Warriors perform this season. If the team is in position to qualify for the postseason and Thompson makes good progress in his rehab, it’s easy to imagine him pushing to make it back by season’s end to participate in the playoffs. However, Kerr makes it clear that the Dubs will play it safe with their newly-extended star, preparing for the possibility that he won’t be back until 2020/21.
“We have to prepare our young guys to fill that role behind him,” Kerr said. “And when he gets back, whenever that is, hopefully these young guys now are developed and in the rotation and ready to really be contributors on a playoff team and we can get better.”
Kristaps Porzingis was the last NBA star to suffer a torn ACL. While every player’s body is different and the Knicks and Mavericks likely treated Porzingis’ 7’3″ frame with an abundance of caution during his rehab process, it’s worth noting that the big man sat out the entire 2018/19 season after tearing his ACL in early February 2018.
As Murdock points out, Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker were able to return a little earlier after suffering torn ACLs, but they were still out for 11 months and a year, respectively. An 11-month recovery timetable would sideline Thompson until mid-May, and Golden State’s season may well be over by that point.