Klay Thompson

Pacific Notes: Suns, Bridges, CP3, Klay, Kawhi

The Suns‘ run to the NBA Finals in 2021 caught some NBA fans and observers off guard, but team owner Robert Sarver is confident that his club is well-positioned to “compete at a very high level again,” as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic relays. Sarver believe Phoenix has a solid foundation in place and that a handful of offseason roster tweaks will help the team remain in title contention.

“We added a few players that I think will help us,” Sarver said. “I think you’re seeing a little bit of that in the preseason so far. So I think between the additions, between the foundation and then between what I call the organic growth, which is just our younger players keep getting better and better and developing year by year, I think we have an opportunity to make another step.”

One of those “younger” players the Suns are counting on to play a big role is three-and-D wing Mikal Bridges, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension. Bridges and the Suns have until Monday evening to work out a new deal that would keep him off the restricted free agent market next summer, and he told reporters on Friday that his priority is to remain in Phoenix (video link via Rankin).

“We want to be here,” Bridges said of himself and teammate Deandre Ayton, who is also up for an extension. “Plain and simple. We love this team, love this organization, what it’s done for us.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Speaking to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Suns point guard Chris Paul said he’s not thinking about retiring anytime soon and doesn’t have a specific goal in mind for what how many more years he’ll play. “I don’t know how long I’m going to play,” said Paul, who signed a new four-year contract in the offseason. “I’m going to play until God willing, and he says, ‘You need to sit down somewhere,’ or my kids tell me, ‘Daddy, you’re embarrassing us.'”
  • Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson is expected to be cleared to practice in full within the next month or so, says Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link). That’s a pretty vague timeline, and Charania cautions that Thompson will require a ramp-up period once he begins practicing, so it remains unlikely that he’ll be back in Golden State’s lineup before sometime in December.
  • The Clippers would rather have Kawhi Leonard on the floor, but while he’s recovering from ACL surgery, the team is glad he’s able to serve as a de facto coach on the sidelines, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. “He’s not like the loudest one, but no, he knows what to say, what to do,” Nicolas Batum said of his star teammate. “When he has (something) to say, especially on the side when we play five-on-five … he’ll take guys on the side and tell you what he sees, what he just saw the last previous play.”

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Wiggins, Curry, Roster

Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers said Klay Thompson can participate in some training camp activities, “just not contact, no 5-on-5,” Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Thompson’s return will perhaps come in January when he feels he’s ready. However, he’ll ramp up activities gradually and will participate in numerous scrimmages, and perhaps high-intensity G League practices, before he returns.

Thompson hints that he’s a little more optimistic about his return date, saying he wouldn’t return until late November or early December, Slater adds in another tweet.

Coach Steve Kerr said Thompson, who has missed two seasons due to knee and Achilles injuries, will make his season debut in a home game, Nick Friedell of ESPN tweets.

We have more on the Warriors:

  • Andrew Wiggins isn’t backing down from his anti-vax stance, though he won’t elaborate on his reasons, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. If Wiggins is not fully vaccinated by October 13, he will not be allowed inside Chase Center for practices or games. For every game he misses, he’ll forfeit more than $350K in pre-tax salary, Poole notes. Myers is hopeful Wiggins will change his stance, according to Friedell. “My belief and my thoughts are that we’ll have the full team,” Myers said. “I’m not preparing really for anything different right now.”
  • Though Golden State is deep into the luxury tax, Stephen Curry would like to see the front office to use its taxpayer mid-level exception, perhaps in the buyout market, if the right opportunity arises, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic tweets.
  • There are no roster changes anticipated heading into the season, Marcus Thompson of The Athletic tweets. “I expect this roster to be our roster, especially in the near term and probably into the season,” Myers said. “I want to see what the team looks like as constructed.” There will be spirited competition for the final roster spots on a team with 13 guaranteed contracts. Golden State recently added veterans Avery Bradley, Langston Galloway and Jordan Bell to the camp roster.

Klay Thompson, James Wiseman Making “Good Progress”

Injured Warriors Klay Thompson and James Wiseman have made “good progress” and are “on pace to return for the 2021/22 season,” the team’s PR department tweets.

Thompson, who underwent surgery on his torn right Achilles on November 25, is expected to participate in various controlled drills during training camp. His return to full practices will be determined at a later date.

There has been speculation that Thompson will return to action around Christmas if all goes well.

Wiseman, who underwent surgery for a right meniscal tear in mid-April, is expected to participate in individual shooting and other individual on-court activities during camp. His return to full practices will be determined after October 15, when he’s expected to begin full jumping on the surgically repaired knee.

Wiseman, the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft, has seen his name thrown into trade rumors this offseason, particularly involving disgruntled Sixers star Ben Simmons.

Warriors Notes: Offseason, 15th Roster Spot, Gasol

The Warriors are one of the most interesting teams to monitor entering the new season. After reigning scoring-champion and two-time MVP Stephen Curry proved yet again the incredible impact he has when healthy, the team has high expectations.

The Warriors did not pull the trigger on any major trades, instead opting to keep their draft picks and focus on internal development, along with the shrewd signings of veterans Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr., and Nemanja Bjelica to minimum contracts. Zach Harper of The Athletic liked Golden State’s moves overall, grading the offseason a B-plus and ranking the team as a playoff hopeful.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • In the same piece, Harper specifically mentions the wing and forward depth as noteworthy roster improvements over last season’s group. He also states that even if Klay Thompson is only able to find his old shooting form and nothing else, that would certainly help improve the team’s 20th-ranked offense.
  • While the Warriors currently only have 13 players on guaranteed contracts (and one two-way spot open), Damion Lee is considered likely to make the roster, leaving the 15th spot up for grabs. Anthony Slater of The Athletic explores the team’s options for the last spot, stating that Gary Payton II is a slight favorite due to his athleticism and defensive intensity.
  • Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area posits that the team would be wise to lure Marc Gasol back to the NBA at some point during the season, if possible. Poole notes that the Warriors lack depth at center, and even if Gasol is only asked to play 15-18 MPG in certain matchups, his passing and basketball IQ would be very valuable to the offense.
  • In case you missed it, the Warriors are evaluating their depth at backup point guard, as they have worked out (or will work out) veteran NBA point guards Ryan Arcidiacono, Darren Collison, and Isaiah Thomas.

Pacific Notes: Gasol, Drummond, Thompson, Wiseman, Johnson

The Lakers’ signing of Andre Drummond after the trade deadline soured the franchise’s relationship with Marc Gasol, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic (Twitter link). Gasol lost his starting job and that created a rift that could not be resolved, Oram adds. Gasol was traded to the Grizzlies on Friday, though he’ll be waived and will remain in Spain with his family.

Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register runs with the same theme, noting that Gasol called his season with the Lakers “chaotic.” The Lakers signaled this week that Gasol wouldn’t return when they signed DeAndre Jordan.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers are sending their own 2024 pick with no protections in the Gasol deal with the Grizzlies, Bobby Marks of ESPN confirms (via Twitter). The Grizzlies are also receiving $250K in the deal, Marks adds.
  • There will be plenty of pressure on Klay Thompson and James Wiseman to produce for the Warriors during the upcoming season, Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. It’s unlikely that the Warriors’ floor-spacing will improve until Thompson’s return, and they need Wiseman to develop into a frontcourt force in order to become a contender again.
  • Suns wing Cameron Johnson has changed representation, hiring agents Ty Sullivan, Steve Heumann, Melvin Booker and Simone Capers of CAA Basketball, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Johnson, who is entering his third season in the league, averaged 8.2 PPG in 21 game during Phoenix’s postseason run to the Finals. Johnson, a 2019 lottery pick, is extension-eligible next offseason. Melvin Booker is Devin Booker‘s father.

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Kuminga, Roster Spot, Millsap

The Warriors‘ hopes for becoming title contenders again depend on a full return to health by Klay Thompson, writes Wes Goldberg of The San Jose Mercury News. Management is hoping Thompson can return by Christmas Day after missing the last two seasons with a torn left ACL and then a torn right Achilles tendon.

“With a healthy Klay Thompson, I think we’re right there with everybody,” general manager Bob Myers said. “But I don’t know when, or how, I expect him to come back healthy. I don’t want to put any pressure on the date because it’s not going to be at the start of the season. It’s not going to be the first game.”

Thompson was among the best players in the league before the injuries hit, with five straight All-Star Game appearances and five straight trips to the NBA Finals. During an Instagram broadcast in June, he acknowledged the risks of trying to return too soon.

“I also have to factor in my left knee,” Thompson said, “because I don’t want to come back and be half myself.”

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Jonathan Kuminga is ready to pursue the NBA dream that drove him to leave the Congo at age 13, per Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle. Kuminga’s latest step was the Las Vegas Summer League, where he flashed some of the potential that caused the Warriors to scoop him up with the No. 7 pick. “I think he’s going to be one of the best two-way players from this draft class,” said Brian Shaw, who coached Kuminga with the G League Ignite last season. “He has all the tools you’re looking for, and he’s only 18.”
  • Golden State has a roster spot left to fill, but Myers warns that the luxury tax implications of using the taxpayer mid-level exception could force the team to start the season with 14 players, relays Alex Didion of NBC Sports Bay Area“I don’t think we use it,” Myers said on a recent radio interview. “I think we tried, we put it out there for some players we thought were difference-makers. But it’s not wise, and I would almost protect (owner Joe Lacob) from himself if he said go spend it on anyone. It does cost us about $25 million to spend the $5 million, which again I laugh, I know listeners or fans don’t care about that part, but we have to.” 
  • In case you missed it, the Warriors are rumored to be one of the teams interested in free agent forward Paul Millsap, who has spent the past four seasons with the Nuggets.

Warriors Targeting Christmas Return For Klay Thompson?

The Warriors are aiming to have Klay Thompson back in the lineup for their Christmas Day game in Phoenix, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said today during an appearance on The Jump (video link).

According to Shelburne, December 25 is a “conservative target” for Thompson, but the Warriors will exercise plenty of patience with a star player who hasn’t seen any NBA game action since June of 2019.

“He could come back a little bit before (December 25), but in terms of getting his conditioning right, they’re targeting the Christmas Day game against the Suns,” Shelburne said. “I know that sounds a little late to people, but he was injured on November 18, so this is 13 months from an Achilles injury.

“… If he does well and his conditioning is up and he feels like he wants to come back earlier, he will,” Shelburne continued. “… (But) you need time to build your conditioning back up when you miss two NBA seasons.”

Thompson suffered a torn ACL during Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals on June 13 and missed the entire 2019/20 season while recovering from that injury. Just when he appeared to be on the verge of returning to action last fall, he tore his Achilles tendon in November, resulting in another lost year.

Thompson, 31, is one of the Warriors’ most important two-way players, providing elite shooting and floor-spacing on offense while often handling some of the toughest assignments on defense. Having a fully healthy and effective version of Thompson back on the court will be crucial if Golden State hopes to contend for a title again in 2022, so it makes sense that the team would be careful not to rush him back for early-season games in October and November.

Until Thompson returns, the Warriors figure to lean more on free agent additions Otto Porter, Nemanja Bjelica, and Andre Iguodala to provide outside shooting and to defend wings and forwards.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Lacob, Moody, Larranaga

Prior to the draft, the Warriors’ top players were reportedly urging the front office to make a major deal by using assets such the No. 7 and 14 picks in the draft. Golden State ultimately didn’t make a deal, instead drafting Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.

Majority owner Joe Lacob said it’s “unlikely” will swing a big deal this offseason, Anthony Slater of The Athletic reports. The Warriors don’t want to give up an established star for another one.

“I know this isn’t popular with a lot of people. They think we ought to go get the next star,” Lacob said. “We already have the stars. And we have a payroll that’s — and I’ve said this when I was interviewed before, but nobody listened. It’s very unlikely, I’ve said that we’re not going to trade for anybody that people are expecting. Very unlikely.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • In the same story, Lacob said he’s ecstatic how the draft unfolded. “We’ll probably never have two lottery picks again. If we do, we’ll have a problem,” he said. “The thing that’s most amazing to me is how it worked out. I shouldn’t say where they were on our board, but it’s hard for me not to say it. I’ll just tell you they were both clearly in our top 10. We feel like we got really fortunate on Kuminga. Then with Moody, I think it’s pretty common knowledge we were seriously considering him at seven.”
  • Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson attended Moody’s draft workout, Alex Didion of NBC Sports Bay Area relays. Moody also has the same representative as Draymond Green and they had conversations leading up to the draft.
  • Jay Larranaga is joining Tyronn Lue’s coaching staff with the Clippers, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweetsLarranaga has been Brad Stevens top assistant with the Celtics over the past seven seasons.

Warriors’ Stars Pushing For Beal Trade

The Warriors’ star players are pushing management to acquire a top-level talent in pursuit of another championship, with Bradley Beal as the top target, Marcus Thompson of The Athletic reports.

The Warriors have the No. 7 and 14 picks in next week’s draft to dangle and would likely have to add more picks along with Andrew Wiggins‘ salary to make the salaries match. Golden State would prefer to keep last year’s No. 2 overall pick, James Wiseman, but it’s speculated that Washington would also want the young center as part of any package.

Of course, Beal has never indicated he wants to be traded and the Wizards have repeatedly said they’re not interested in dealing their high-scoring All-Star. In fact, Washington is hoping to sign Beal to another extension. His current one begins in 2021/22 — it’s a two-year deal worth $71.8MM with a player option in the second year.

Beal and the Wizards would need to have a change of heart quickly with the draft just a week away.

Golden State’s trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green has made it clear to the team’s front office it wants a player who can help the franchise make another serious run at a title.

Beal, who was chosen for Team USA but didn’t travel to Tokyo after entering health and safety protocols, is viewed as the ideal player for Golden State’s offense due to his scoring and play-making ability. That would ease the load on Curry, who edged Beal for the league scoring title this season.

Damian Lillard could also fit that mold, but multiple sources told Thompson it’s unlikely the Trail Blazers’ perennial All-Star would want to join the Warriors. Beal is preferred over Raptors star forward Pascal Siakam, another player rumored to be a potential trade target for the Warriors.

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Wiseman, Atkinson, Brown, Draft

Recovering Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson isn’t participating in full contact workouts yet, but he’s “starting to really get movement on the court,” head coach Steve Kerr told Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Thompson continues to rehab from an Achilles tear he suffered in November 2020.

“He’s still a ways away from actually playing basketball in a 5-on-5 setting,” Kerr said. “But there’s a big step with the Achilles when you can actually start running again. It’s a huge psychological boost. The rest of the body gets going, you start feeling the soreness and aches and pains that actually feel good when you’ve been out for a while. He’s at that point.”

Kerr addressed a few other topics of note during his conversation with Slater. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Coming off knee surgery that ended his rookie season, James Wiseman is “right on schedule for everything,” according to Kerr, who says the expectation is still that the young center will be ready for training camp.
  • Discussing the addition of Kenny Atkinson as an assistant coach, Kerr said he was worried about “groupthink” with the current staff and believes Atkinson will bring a new perspective to the group. “Very clever. Very analytically driven,” Kerr said of Atkinson. “We’ve had a lot of basketball conversations over the years and I’ve always been impressed with the way he sees and feels the game. In a way, it’s different from me.”
  • Mike Brown has been Kerr’s associate head coach for the last several years, making him the lead assistant on the staff. Atkinson has a claim to that role too, but neither coach is concerned about the title, according to Kerr. “I talked to Kenny about titles. He didn’t care. I talked to Mike, said I was interviewing Kenny and hadn’t talked title. Mike said, ‘I don’t care either,'” Kerr told Slater. “To me, they’re just both assistant coach. Both guys are comfortable in their own skin.”
  • Kerr said he isn’t as involved this year in scouting and evaluating draft prospects because of the Olympics and his commitment to Team USA, but he’s excited about what the Warriors will be able to do with the seventh and 14th overall picks. “Based on what I’ve watched on tape, I’ve seen a few guys who can play right now,” Kerr said. “You can go that route or go the younger route, get a prospect. Maybe you get one of each. Get one guy who is ready now and one guy who may pop in a few years. Who knows. But I think we’re in a really good position asset-wise to look at everything.”