Klay Thompson

Lowe’s Latest: Kings, Butler, Sixers, Lee, Klay

In his final piece previewing the 2018/19 NBA campaign, ESPN’s Zach Lowe offers up a few dozen bold predictions for the coming season. He also relays several tidbits of note on trade candidates and 2019 free-agents-to-be within those predictions, so we’re going to dive in and round up some of the highlights…

  • Lowe is skeptical that the Kings will be able to use their $11MM in remaining cap room to land a first-round pick, since he hears from sources that the team is wary about taking on multiple years of bad money.
  • Although teams like the Heat, Nets, and Clippers have been cited as Jimmy Butler‘s preferred destinations, the Timberwolves wing also “has eyes” for the Sixers, per Lowe. However, sources tell ESPN that Philadelphia has shown “almost no interest” in trading for Butler.
  • The Knicks are still trying to trade Courtney Lee, sources tell Lowe. While it’s not clear if they’ve made progress in any trade talks, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer notes that Lee has generated interest, adding that the Hornets discussed a trade for the veteran swingman at last season’s deadline.
  • Klay Thompson – who will be a free agent in 2019 – has no plans to accept a discount on his next contract, and the Warriors don’t expect him to, reports Lowe. Still, O’Connor says that sources he has spoken to would be “shocked” if Thompson left Golden State.
  • It’s a moot point now, but if LeBron James had committed to staying with the Cavaliers this summer, Cleveland would have sent the No. 8 pick in the draft to the Hornets as part of a trade package for Kemba Walker, according to Lowe.

Warriors Notes: Kerr, Myers, McCaw, Thompson

As the Timberwolves make an effort to handle Jimmy Butler‘s trade request, Tom Thibodeau‘s dual role as the club’s head coach and president of basketball operations may be a complicating factor — Thibodeau reportedly has no interest in rebuilding or in making a deal that would see the Wolves take a major step back on the court.

While Thibodeau has plenty of power – for now – in Minnesota, not every NBA head coach is envious of his extra responsibilities. As Chris Hine of The Minneapolis Star Tribune details, Warriors coach Steve Kerr is one coach who has no interest in assuming both of those roles at once, despite having previously served as an NBA general manager.

“It wouldn’t work for me,” Kerr said of holding both jobs at once. “It depends on the circumstances, the situations. It depends on relationships within the organization. Everybody is going to be structured a little differently, but having sat in both chairs, I would not feel comfortable doing both jobs.”

Here’s more on Kerr and the Warriors:

  • As Hine relays, Kerr offered a few additional thoughts on why he’s happy simply coaching the Warriors: “One of the reasons I wanted to coach is because frankly it’s easier than being a GM and facing some of those choices. I’m lucky. I’ve got a great GM. Great friend in Bob [Myers] and when we’ve been faced with difficult decisions, the collaboration and the process we’ve had has been sound. … We’re lucky to be where we are, and it’s been smooth. We’re all going to face our moments. It’s the NBA, and it’s tough out there.”
  • One issue that Myers and the Warriors’ front office are currently dealing with is Patrick McCaw‘s restricted free agency. McCaw let Monday’s qualifying offer deadline pass without accepting his QO, a decision that is both “risky and mystifying,” according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.
  • Asked by Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link) whether he’d be interested in having his “own team,” 2019 free-agent-to-be Klay Thompson questioned that concept, noting that he doesn’t believe the Warriors are any one player’s team. “I just want to be on a great team,” Thompson added. “I don’t want to necessarily be the focal point at all times.”

Contract Notes: Jokic, Gordon, Nurkic, Jazz

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic didn’t technically sign a maximum-salary contract when he re-upped with the club this summer, but he can increase his 2018/19 earnings to the maximum if he helps lead Denver to postseason success.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks details (subscription required), Jokic is one of several NBA players with incentives in their contracts for the coming season. In Jokic’s case, he’s currently about $862K shy of his maximum salary, but he can earn $431K if the Nuggets advance to the playoffs, and another $431K if they win in the first round.

Here are a few more details from Marks on this season’s incentives and bonuses:

  • Aaron Gordon has a potential path to an All-Star nod in an Eastern Conference that lost more top talent this offseason. Gordon’s new contract with the Magic calls for a $500K bonus if he’s named an All-Star, per Marks. He could also further increase his earnings by being named to the All-NBA and All-Defense teams at season’s end.
  • Jusuf Nurkic can earn an extra $1.25MM this season if he appears in 70 games and the Trail Blazers crack the 50-win threshold, according to Marks. Nurkic played in 79 games last season, but because Portland only had 49 wins, this incentive is considered unlikely and doesn’t currently count against Nurkic’s cap hit.
  • Davis Bertans has to meet several criteria in order to earn a $250K bonus on his new contract with the Spurs — the veteran forward must play in 70 games, make 165 three-pointers, and average 6.5 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes, as Marks details.
  • Dante Exum, Raul Neto, and Derrick Favors all have incentives on their new deals with the Jazz, with a focus on games played — they all must appear in at least 67 games to start earning their bonuses. Favors, in particular, has plenty riding on his performance, as he can earn $2.8MM in incentives. Of those incentives, $900K are considered likely and already count against his cap charge.
  • Marks also notes that several players will have a chance to become eligible for super-max contracts with their current clubs if they make All-NBA teams this season. That list includes Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Draymond Green (Warriors), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), and Kemba Walker (Hornets). Additionally, Devin Booker‘s new extension with the Suns would start at 27.5% of the cap if he’s named to the All-NBA Third Team, 28.5% if he’s named to the Second Team, and 30% for First Team.

Pacific Notes: Suns, Canaan, Durant, Klay, Lakers

When training camp opened for the Suns earlier this week, multiple reports – including ones from Bob Baum of The Associated Press and Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic – noted that the most pressing issue facing the franchise in the short term was its hole at the point guard spot.

That hasn’t changed within the last few days, with Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writing today that it remains unclear which way Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov might be leaning. Shaquille Harrison, De’Anthony Melton, Elie Okobo, and Isaiah Canaan are among the point guards vying for playing time. In comments on Thursday, Kokoskov spoke in general terms about those four players when he addressed the traits he’s looking for from a starting point guard.

“Just being solid overall,” the Suns’ new coach said, per Rankin. “The four guys we’ve brought to this camp, our guys are pretty solid. That’s a quality they’re bringing to this team. Just being solid. We’re not asking for anything extraordinary. Just be solid overall when it comes to defensive stops, when it comes to running the team. Putting the guys in the right spots. The key word is being solid.”

As Rankin outlines in a separate article for The Arizona Republic, Canaan easily has the most NBA experience of the Suns’ four in-house point guards and believes he’s capable of taking the reins as the starter. Canaan continues to make his way back from a broken left ankle that ended his 2017/18 season, and Rankin believes that the veteran will likely get the first crack at the starting job if Phoenix doesn’t trade for a point guard.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Like LeBron James has done in the past, Warriors forward Kevin Durant has decided to sign short-term contracts with opt-outs in order to maximize his flexibility, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. “I could have easily signed a long-term [contract], but I just wanted to take it season-by-season and see where it takes me,” Durant said earlier this week. The two-time Finals MVP will be eligible for free agency again in 2019, but isn’t talking about that decision at this point.
  • Durant’s teammate Klay Thompson will also be eligible for free agency in 2019 and has been more willing to talk about his desire to stay with the Warriors long-term — he reiterated that preference on Thursday, as Nick Friedell of ESPN.com writes. “It’s hard to walk away from something — you were here when it started and yeah, you just want to stay on the train as long as you can,” Thompson said.
  • After LeBron James spoke earlier this week about the Lakers having a long way to go before they can seriously challenge the Warriors, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com explores what “success” might look like for LeBron’s Lakers, this season and beyond.
  • Rajon Rondo brings extensive big-game experience and a much-needed “hard edge” to the Lakers, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register.

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Green, Looney, Dynasty

Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson isn’t particularly excited about becoming a free agent at the end of the season. He doubts he could find a better situation than he’s already in, as Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. “Not really. When guys go into free agency, they’re looking for situations like mine. I’m content.” Thompson, who will make a shade under $19MM this season, will be an unrestricted FA unless he signs an extension. Golden State owner Joe Lacob said he’d like to sign Thompson to an extension but nothing is imminent. Thompson deferred all extension questions to his agent, as Nick Friedell of ESPN tweets.

In other news regarding the Warriors:

  • Power forward Draymond Green is signed through the 2019/20 season and he anticipates staying with the organization beyond that point, Mark Medina of the San Jose Mercury News reports. Lacob indicated the organization has also been discussing an extension with Green’s representatives. Green isn’t sure if they’ll come to an agreement but he doesn’t see himself wearing another uniform in the foreseeable future. “I’m confident I’ll be here a very long time,” he said.
  • Kevon Looney knows DeMarcus Cousins will be the team’s center once he fully recovers from his Achilles injury, according to the Warriors website post. Looney expects a spirited competition for minutes at that spot until Cousins’ return. “Since I’ve been here we’ve been playing center by committee. That’s what we’re going to do to start the season off. … until he come back we’re going to go out there and do our best and hunt it down,” Looney said.
  • With Kevin Durant, Thompson, Cousins and several other players eligible to be free agents after the season and growing payroll concerns, there’s a feeling that the team’s dynasty could soon be coming to an end. Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post takes a closer look at that possibility.

Warriors’ Lacob Talks Cousins, Durant, Klay, Green

In a recent podcast with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, Warriors owner Joe Lacob discussed a wide variety of topics, ranging from his summer wedding to his club’s surprise signing of DeMarcus Cousins. As Lacob tells Kawakami, the Warriors had been focused on adding wings and weren’t committed to using their taxpayer mid-level exception at all until Cousins fell into their laps on the second day of 2018’s free agent period.

While Kawakami’s conversation with Lacob is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber, here are a few of the team owner’s most noteworthy comments on the Dubs’ roster and outlook for 2018/19:

On whether Lacob is bothered by the perception that the Warriors signing Cousins was unfair to the rest of the league:

“No. It’s not our job to care about the rest of the league. It’s our job to win. Period. End of story. Nothing else to be discussed. And, since Day 1 that’s been our attitude. … We’re committed to winning. That means being excellent at everything you do — from the people you hire in the organization, to building a new arena, to filling out your roster, to retaining your head coach. Whatever it may be.”

On whether the Warriors will have to re-recruit Kevin Durant when he becomes a free agent in 2019:

“Of course we do. He deserves to go and be happy wherever he wants to be. I hope it’s here. I hope he feels the same way that I do and we do about him, when it comes time next summer. But you never can predict these things. We just will do our job, and he’ll do his job and we’ll see what happens next summer; let the chips fall where they may.”

On whether the team made any progress in contract extension talks with Klay Thompson or Draymond Green:

“I’ll let [general manager] Bob [Myers] address those, specifically. But I think it’s fair to say we’ve had discussions with both of them over the summer, their representatives. Nothing’s been done or you’d hear about it. But we’d love to retain them long term in the organization and we will do whatever it takes to do that.”

On the Warriors’ title chances for 2018/19:

“We have high expectations. We want to win. We kind of expect to win. We have a great roster. As long as we stay healthy and do the things we’re supposed to do, I think we have a good chance to win.”

Lakers Notes: Ball, Stephenson, Bosh, Thompson

Lakers guard Lonzo Ball wasn’t concerned with his name being in trade rumors this past summer, relays Christian Rivas of USA TODAY’s Lonzo Wire. Ball was rumored as potential trade candidate in a deal involving Kawhi Leonard before the Spurs moved him to Toronto.

“There’s trade rumors every year,” Ball said. “Athletes in general, you’re never really 100 percent safe. Wherever you’re at. Anything can happen, especially in the offseason, so all I can do is just make sure I’m ready to play at the best of my abilities.”

The Lakers ultimately opted to keep Ball on their roster, and it’s unclear if the team ever seriously pursued a trade involving him. Los Angeles reached a buyout agreement with Luol Deng this past week, which gives the team the cap flexibility to pursue Leonard again once he becomes a free agent in July.

Ball, 20, is set to enter his second season with the Lakers. He’ll compete with veteran guard Rajon Rondo for the team’s starting point guard position when camp opens in three weeks.

There’s more from the Lakers:

  • Lance Stephenson is focused on helping the Lakers earn a winning season, studying game film of LeBron James and other teammates throughout the summer, Scott Agness of The Athletic notes. “He worked harder than most guys that I’ve ever seen over a summer period,” NBA trainer Rob Blackwell said.
  • Free agent Chris Bosh continues to eye an NBA comeback, but a number of hurdles would stand between him and the Lakers on a potential deal, writes Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus. Bosh must show a significant improvement in his condition or any potential treatment options in order to be cleared by the league.
  • While he may be a long shot to leave the Warriors in 2019, Klay Thompson shouldn’t be overlooked as a potential free agent target for the Lakers, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. As Anthony Irwin of Silver Screen & Roll details, Shelburne observed during an appearance on ESPN Radio that Thompson’s skill set would be an ideal fit for the Lakers, but acknowledged that the All-Star guard “feels like a Warrior for life.”

Western Rumors: Rozier, Williams, Durant, Rockets

The Celtics’ Terry Rozier and the Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie are two of the logical trade targets for the Suns in their search for a point guard, according to Frank Urbina of HoopsHype. Rozier is a solid two-way player coming off a career year but the Suns would likely have to offer a package that included an unprotected first-rounder to catch Boston’s attention. A trade for Dinwiddie would be more plausible and he’d be a good fit with Phoenix considering his size, perimeter shooting and pick-and-roll prowess, Urbina continues. The Clippers’ Patrick Beverley, the Cavaliers’ George Hill and the Hornets’ Kemba Walker are some of the other names Urbina throws out as potential targets. The Suns are searching for a starting point guard after trading away Brandon Knight to the Rockets last week.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Pelicans signed Troy Williams, Kenrich Williams and Garlon Green to partially-guaranteed contracts in the hope of finding one reliable small forward, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate notes. That trio will compete for a roster spot, though the potential addition of swingman Tyrone Wallacesigned to an offer sheet on Monday — could change that. “They just told me they’re bringing some guys in and having them go head-on to see who wins a spot,” Kenrich Williams told Kushner.
  • By buying out Luol Deng‘s contract and using the stretch provision, the Lakers gave themselves a chance to offer Kevin Durant a max salary in free agency, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders examines. The Lakers now project to have $38.2MM in cap space, which would be just enough to afford Durant, Pincus continues. If they can’t land Durant, they’ll certainly have enough to bring in another All-Star level talent. Other high-level potential free agents, including Kawhi Leonard, Klay ThompsonDeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, Walker and Kyrie Irving, could command a first-year salary of $33MM, leaving the Lakers with another $5MM to spend in other ways, Pincus adds.
  • The Rockets took a frugal approach this summer and it could cost them a title, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post opines. They traded away Ryan Anderson and allowed two key wing players to walk in free agency. In turn, they signed three players on veteran’s minimum deals and adding a couple of bench players in the Anderson trade, Bontemps notes. So while Houston execs had said they were unconcerned about the luxury tax, their actions showed they wanted to save some money, Bontemps adds.

Mychal Thompson: Expect Klay To Stay With Warriors Long-Term

While Klay Thompson is set to enter the final year of his contract with the Warriors, his father Mychal Thompson doesn’t expect Klay to leave the Bay Area anytime soon, as Scott Ostler of The San Francisco Chronicle details.

“Oh yeah, you can mark it down,” Mychal Thompson told Ostler. “Klay’s going to retire in the Warriors’ uniform. He’s going to play at Chase Center (the Warriors’ new arena, opening in 2019), and he’s not going to be at Chase Center as a visiting player, he’s going to be a Warrior for the next seven or eight years.”

The Warriors are said to be interested in completing an extension with Klay Thompson at some point before he reaches free agency in 2019. He would be eligible for a more lucrative deal if he waits to hit the open market, but there has been speculation that he’d be open to accepting a team-friendly offer worth less than the max. If that’s the case, he and the Warriors could work something out in the coming months.

[RELATED: Steph Curry wants to be a Warrior for life]

Of course, Mychal Thompson’s opinions on his son’s future don’t come with any guarantees. It will be up to Klay whether or not he wants to remain in Golden State for the long term. The 28-year-old is only the third option on a potent Warriors offense that features Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, so the opportunity to be the leading scorer – with a new maximum-salary contract – on another team could be appealing. However, the Warriors provide him the best chance to compete for a title on a yearly basis, as his father points out.

“He’s got such a good thing here,” Mychal Thompson said, per Ostler. “The Warriors have such a special thing here. For the next six or seven years, they’re going to be championship material, they’re not going to break that up. The (1990s) Bulls were broken up too prematurely. (Warriors co-owners) Joe Lacob and Peter Guber aren’t going to let that happen. Are you kidding? They can afford it. They’re the Warriors, this is the Bay Area, they got a beautiful arena, and money’s no object for this team.”

For his part, Klay Thompson has also said in the past that he would like to stick with the Warriors, albeit in more general terms than those used by his father. He maintained that stance during a conversation with Mark Medina of The Bay Area News Group, indicating that he’d like to be a “Warrior for life.”

“Contract negotiations are way down the line,” the four-time All-Star said. “But I think we all have the same interest. I would love to be here for the rest of my career.”

And-Ones: 2019 FAs, MVP Odds, Oldest Vets

An ESPN panel was asked where they think some of the top-projected free agents of 2019 might end up next summer. The results were interesting, with the panel making a prediction for five players: Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson.

As we explored earlier this summer, both Irving and Butler have reportedly expressed interested in playing together, and the panel obviously took that into consideration, predicting both players to suit up for the Knicks next season. However, the Celtics were a close second for Irving.

Interestingly, the Lakers were the second-highest voted selection for both Butler and Thompson, and the first-place selection for Leonard by a wide-margin. Meanwhile, both Thompson and Durant are projected to return to the Warriors.

We have more from around the league: