Klay Thompson

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Evans, Chriss, Lee

Klay Thompson made a rare appearance in front of the media on Tuesday, speaking publicly to reporters for the first time since the Warriors‘ preseason media day. As Nick Friedell of ESPN.com relays, Thompson said his ACL rehab is “going great,” adding that he hasn’t closed the door on the possibility of returning before the end of the 2019/20 campaign.

“Obviously, I wish I could be out there,” Thompson said. “It’s been a long process. I haven’t stopped working since the third day after Game 6 of the 2019 Finals. You might not see me a lot, but I’m working. I don’t know what’s going to come this season, I would love to get out there.”

Despite his optimism and his desire to get back on the court, Thompson seems unlikely to return before the fall. With the Warriors on track to finish dead-last in the Western Conference, the team will be more cautious than ever with the veteran sharpshooter, who is in the first season of a five-year, maximum-salary contract. Thompson sounds like he understands that line of thinking, as Friedell details.

“I’m trying to make sure this type of injury never happens to me again, so I’ll be very patient because I want to play at a high level ’til my late 30s,” he said.

Here’s more on the Dubs:

  • Warriors guard Jacob Evans was taken to a hospital after colliding with Mavericks big man Dwight Powell in the second quarter of Tuesday’s game, according to Friedell. Evans, who took an elbow to the face during the collision, stayed on the floor for several minutes before leaving the game. The team has yet to issue an update on his diagnosis or his potential recovery timeline.
  • The Warriors found a creative way to ultimately retain Marquese Chriss and Damion Lee and keep both players active, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Chriss projects to reach the 24-day NBA limit on his new two-way contract in early March, but Slater suggests the former lottery pick is the frontrunner to be promoted to Golden State’s 15-man roster at that time. The Warriors can’t add a 15th man until late in the season due to their hard cap.
  • Chriss has officially signed his two-way contract with the Warriors, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The team hasn’t announced the finalized deal yet, since Lee will need to be moved to the 15-man roster before Chriss can fill his two-way slot.

“A Long Way To Go” For Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry is traveling with the Warriors for the first time this season, but his timeline for a possible return hasn’t changed, writes Mark Medina of USA Today. Curry, who has missed 35 games with a fractured hand that required surgery, will be re-evaluated February 1. That means Golden State will play at least 10 more games without the two-time MVP.

“There is a long way to go for him to heal and be ready to play in a game,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He just started really getting onto the court shooting and moving around. He has a ways to go, but it’s good to see him out there.”

Curry was averaging 20.3 PPG when he suffered the injury in the fourth game of the season. His jumper was still on target as he participated in a shooting drill yesterday with Draymond Green and assistant coach Bruce Fraser.

The Warriors’ plans also haven’t changed on fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson, Medina adds. His condition will be evaluated during the All-Star Break (February 13-17) to see how much progress he has made in his recovery from the ACL injury in his left knee he suffered in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Thompson has been taking part in shooting practice with his teammates when they have been in San Francisco.

Medina suggests the Warriors might set up conditioning and scrimmaging drills for both players after they have been checked by team doctors.

Pacific Notes: Kuzma, Bradley, Bowman, Lee, Curry, Thompson

The Lakers aren’t close to dealing Kyle Kuzma and want a substantial package if they do move the high-scoring forward, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. The Kings are reportedly among the teams interested in acquiring Kuzma. The Lakers would likely ask for a quality rotation player, preferably a point guard, along with a first-round draft pick that projects to be in or around the lottery, Deveney continues. The Lakers would also consider two lesser first-round picks as part of a package for Kuzma, Deveney adds.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers guard Avery Bradley suffered a right ankle sprain against Detroit on Sunday, Dave McMenamin of ESPN relays. X-rays were negative and it’s uncertain when Bradley will return to action. Bradley missed 13 games earlier this season due to a right leg injury and hasn’t played more than 63 regular-season games over the previous three seasons due to an assortment of ailments.
  • The Warriors will send Ky Bowman to the G League when D’Angelo Russell returns from a right shoulder contusion, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Bowman has six days remaining on his 45-day NBA allotment under the terms of a two-way contract. The team’s other two-way player, Damion Lee, has just two days remaining until he must remain in the G League or receive a standard contract. A roster spot is likely to be cleared for Lee at some point, Slater adds.
  • Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry are getting antsy as they rehab from long-term injuries, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Thompson is working his way back from the knee injury he suffered during last season’s playoffs, while Curry is rehabbing from hand surgery. “In an ironic way, this has been probably a good chance for them to blow off some stream and whatever metaphor you want to use,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “But that can only last for so long. They’re both dying to play. And we’re dying to have them back.”

Warriors In No Rush To Deal D’Angelo Russell

From the time the Warriors acquired D’Angelo Russell in the Kevin Durant sign-and-trade, many around the league have been operating under the assumption that the Dubs would deal Russell once they were eligible to do so.

“It’s just going to come down to when they want to do it,” one executive tells Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. “Could do it now. Could do it later. But they’ll do it.”

The majority of offseason signings will be eligible for a trade on December 15 (sign-and-trades like the acquisition of Russell count as a signing) and leading up to that date, one might suspect the Warriors to already be in the process of parsing the market.

However, Deveney hears that Golden State has been quiet with regard to Russell negotiations with other clubs. One rival GM doesn’t believe the Warriors are pushing for a deal.

“If it is something that they’re going to do quickly, like before the end of this month, I wouldn’t say they’re pushing for it,” one general manager said. “Maybe they have a deal in mind, maybe they’re sitting on something and laying low. But I’d be surprised. That’s not how they’d approach it, I’d think. You want to create a market if you are going to trade a player like him, you want to pit teams against each other, drive up the price. You don’t want to lock into one deal. But the market thing, that’s not really happening yet. They’re not pushing the market for him.”

Russell has struggled to stay on the court, as various injuries have limited him to just 11 games. When he has been able to suit up, he’s impressed. Russell is averaging 23.7 points per game, he’s sporting a career-high 21.6 player efficiency rating, and he leads the Warriors in NBA Math’s Total Points Added despite many of his teammates playing twice as many games as him.

It’s likely that the lack of trade talks between the Warriors and other teams doesn’t reflect a lack of interest from rivals. The franchise, which is expected to land a top pick in the 2020 draft, could be planning to keep Russell for the season and then package the point guard with the likely top-five selection for a star via trade since adding a rookie to the core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green wouldn’t exactly mesh timeline-wise.

Then again, the team could keep Russell and head into next season with a three-guard rotation that is unmatched by any around the league. Deveney writes that the Warriors have let it slip that this could be their approach in talks with rival teams, though one GM says that is likely a “smokescreen” intended to make the Warriors look less eager to trade Russell.

The Wolves are among the teams expected to pursue a Russell trade. Minnesota went after him in free agency. Perhaps a package that includes Robert Covington could entice Bob Myers and Golden State’s front office.

Russell is in the first year of the four-year, max deal he inked this past offseason. Where he finishes that contract is anyone’s guess.

Kerr: Klay Thompson “Unlikely” To Play This Season

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.

Myers: Warriors Will Provide Klay Thompson Update At All-Star Break

After tearing his ACL during the NBA Finals in the spring, Klay Thompson has expressed doubt that he’ll be back on the court for the Warriors before the All-Star break. Speaking today to reporters, Golden State’s president of basketball operations Bob Myers confirmed as much.

He’s doing fine,” Myers said of Thompson. “We’ll have an update on him at the All-Star break.”

Assuming Thompson’s rehab process doesn’t unexpectedly speed up in the coming months, the earliest he might return would be February 20, the Warriors’ first game after the All-Star break. That would be the team’s 56th game of the season.

Of course, based on Myers’ comment that the Warriors won’t even provide an update on their All-Star sharpshooter until mid-February, it’s also possible that his return date will come even later than that.

As we wait to see how Thompson’s recovery progresses, here are a few more Warriors notes from Media Day:

  • Willie Cauley-Stein suffered a strained left foot during a recent workout and will miss training camp, Myers said today (Twitter link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic). Head coach Steve Kerr acknowledged that Kevon Looney now looks like the probable starter at center to open the season.I had big plans for Looney anyway,” Kerr said (Twitter link via Slater).
  • Myers said that there are no plans to put Stephen Curry on a minutes limit or to have him sit out games this season for load management reasons (Twitter link via Friedell). Still, the Warriors will keep an eye on the former MVP’s minutes as the seasons unfolds.
  • Kerr said he intends to stagger Curry’s and D’Angelo Russell‘s minutes to some extent this season to help balance the Warriors’ offense (Twitter link via Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated).
  • Myers admitted that it will be hard to make any changes to Golden State’s roster this season due to the team’s hard cap (Twitter link via Mark Medina of USA Today).

Klay Thompson Talks New-Look Warriors, ACL, Durant

For the first time since they landed Kevin Durant in free agency in 2016, the Warriors won’t enter a season as the overwhelming favorites to win the title. Still, despite the fact that Durant is no longer on the roster and Klay Thompson isn’t expected to be back on the court until sometime after the All-Star break, Thompson is enthusiastic about Golden State’s future, as he tells Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic.

Singling out newly-added free agents D’Angelo Russell and Willie Cauley-Stein and expressing excitement about Kevon Looney‘s development, the veteran sharpshooter suggested he’s not worried about fans or experts writing off the Dubs.

“That’s fine. That’s sports,” Thompson said. “I don’t just think we’re going to be nice this year. I think we’ve got a five-year window. We’re still so young, man. People get lost thinking, ‘Oh, they’re 30 now.’ I feel younger than ever.”

In addition to publishing a full-length feature on Klay, Marcus Thompson also relayed a few leftover quotes that didn’t make it into his full story, so there are plenty of noteworthy comments to pass along from the five-All-Star. Here are a few of them:

On tearing his ACL during Game 6 of the NBA Finals:

“I think about that every day. That’s just the humbling part of sports — when you feel like you’re at your best, something traumatic can happen. But I honestly felt like I was at the peak of my NBA career up to that point. I was at my best. The way I was shooting the ball, the way I was playing defense. I felt like I was one of the best players out there. In past series, or Finals, you know, I’ve been able to defer. But in that series, I felt like I was just, like, as close to unstoppable as I’ve ever been.”

On whether the Warriors would have won the Finals if not for his ACL injury:

“In my mind, yes, we would’ve won if I didn’t get hurt. But that’s just the nature of sports, you know? What-ifs. It doesn’t matter. It’s if you do your deed or not. In my mind, I think we would’ve. But you never know. That’s the hard part you’ve got to accept. I look at all the guys who had bad luck getting injured against us the last few years, and I’ve honestly become so much more sympathetic. Yeah. That’s just the nature of the beast.”

On Durant leaving the Warriors for the Nets:

“It was no hard feelings, man. I know Kevin. It sucks because we go from the most dominant team ever to — a really good team, but that’s still a big drop-off, you know. I just enjoyed playing with him, man. It’s fun to play with him every day. He’s such a hard worker and he’s fun to watch. He really is just a great basketball player. I’ll miss that.”

Warriors Notes: Bowman, Thompson, Dunleavy Jr., Rookies

Rookie Ky Bowman is thrilled to have an opportunity with the Warriors after being passed over on draft night, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Bowman signed a two-way deal in July and is hoping to work his way into a standard contract.

“It all starts with being undrafted, knowing I got a lot more to prove to the teams that didn’t draft me and to show the kids back home that you can make it if you put your faith and your work into it,” he said. “I’ve just been praying and working every day and every night, being in the gym on nights that people (hang out). It was a commitment to myself to be successful.”

Bowman had a rough introduction to the league as part of the Warriors’ Summer League team, averaging 2.3 PPG and shooting just 22% from the floor in four games. He said he has learned a lot more during offseason workouts with his new teammates.

“A lot of people don’t get here, it still doesn’t feel real, but it’s an honor to get here,” Bowman said. “I’m trying to embrace every moment, trying to pick up things from the guys who are here. Even when I am guarding Stephen Curry), learning different moves that he’s doing, things I’m trying to work on to become as good as a player.”

There’s more Warriors news to pass along:

  • Two knee specialists believe Klay Thompson is taking a significant risk by planning to play this season, relays Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. Dr. Tim Hewett, who has studied the biomechanics of the knee for the Mayo Clinic and served as director of Ohio State’s Sports Health and Performance Institute, and Dr. Christopher Nagelli of the Mayo Clinic presented a paper recently suggesting that athletes with ACL tears should rest for two full years. “Please do share that with Klay,” Hewett said. “… People don’t like to hear it but it does not change the facts, and that facts are that you’re at risk for re-injury before two years and you won’t be the same player in the first year.”
  • Former Warriors player Mike Dunleavy Jr. is rising in influence as the team’s assistant GM, notes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Dunleavy had served as Golden State’s Eastern scout since 2017 and watched D’Angelo Russell in person more than anyone else in the organization. He played a key role in finalizing a sign-and-trade once GM Bob Myers learned that Kevin Durant was joining the Nets.
  • NBA.com takes a look at the Warriors’ three draft picks, Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall and Alen Smailagić, and what they might be able to contribute this season.

Klay Thompson Wants To Be Part Of Olympic Team

Despite a torn ACL that will sideline him for most of the upcoming season, Warriors guard Klay Thompson is committed to representing his country in the 2020 Olympics, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic.

“I would love to play (for) Team USA,” Thompson said. “That is the plan. I would love to be on the Olympic team.”

Thompson was part of the team that went undefeated during the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. Although he shot just 36.4% from the field in eight games, he averaged 9.9 PPG as the Americans cruised to the gold medal.

He would love for his next Olympic experience to include his fellow Splash Brother, Stephen Curry, who had to withdraw in 2016 after suffering an MCL sprain in the playoffs. Although they’ve never played in the Olympics together, Curry and Thompson were teammates on the gold medal squad in the 2014 World Cup.

“That would be amazing,” Thompson said about the possibility of teaming up with Curry in the Olympics. “Amazing. Because even when we played in the World Championships together, we were barely on the floor together.”

The Americans are coming off their worst international performance since NBA players began participating in 1992, finishing seventh at this year’s World Cup. That was preceded by a series of big names declining invitations to training camp or pulling out before the final roster was announced, but it appears that won’t be a problem in 2020. Thompson, Curry and Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard have already announced their intentions to play in the Olympics.

“It was hard to watch us lose,” Thompson said. “Those guys, they sacrificed their summers for that. I’m not going to dog them for losing, though. The world is good.”

Pacific Notes: Durant, Thompson, Lakers’ DPE, Kings

Kevin Durant left the Warriors because he wasn’t able to find the family atmosphere he wanted, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Durant got the championships and individual awards he was seeking when he signed with Golden State three years ago, but as he indicated in a Wall Street Journal interview this week, he couldn’t be part of the organization in the same way that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala were.

Poole notes that Durant was impressed by the closeness those four players displayed when they came to the Hamptons to recruit him in 2016. That influenced his decision, but he still felt like an outsider. He wasn’t drafted to the organization like Curry, Thompson and Green, and he wasn’t instrumental in the Warriors’ first title in 40 years the way that Iguodala was.

Poole adds that the family dynamic faded over Durant’s three years with Golden State as players spent more time with their actual families. The Currys had two more children, Iguodala got married and Green became more devoted to fatherhood. Green was a close friend for Durant in his first season with the team, but he hung out with DeMarcus Cousins more often last year.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Steve Kerr tells Joe Vardon of The Athletic that it’s going to be like “Year 1” as he guides a much different Warriors roster. While many key pieces are gone from the championship years, Kerr said surviving while Thompson heals from a torn ACL will be the biggest challenge. “Losing Kevin, Andre, Shaun (Livingston) obviously, those are huge losses,” he said. “Losing Klay on top of all that really changes the way we’re going to have to play at both ends. Klay was always an integral part of everything. Movement on offense, but also the guarding of the ballhandler on defense, switching onto bigs. So until he gets back, we’ve got to re-imagine everything and adapt accordingly.”
  • The Lakers are seeking a disabled player exception after Cousins’ injury, but it’s likely just a tool that may be used later in the season, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. There are few options who could make a difference at a $1.75MM salary, which is half of what Cousins is owed. However, minimum contracts decrease through the year, and the DPE will be more valuable once buyout season arrives.
  • Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic will be competing not just for minutes in the Kings‘ backcourt, but for contract extensions as well, notes James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area.