Longtime Warriors star Klay Thompson sat out the final 7:19 of Golden State’s victory over Brooklyn on Monday, marking the second time in the past three games that he has been on the bench down the stretch in non-garbage-time minutes.
Thompson was part of the Warriors’ closing lineup on Saturday in Atlanta, but didn’t play the final 7:40 of Friday’s win over Memphis and was benched on Monday in favor of rookie Gui Santos, who had his best game as a pro in logging a career-high 18 minutes.
Asked after Monday’s win about his changing role and the fact that he’s no longer on a lock to be part of Golden State’s crunch-time lineup, Thompson said that winning is the most important thing, but admitted the adjustment hasn’t been easy, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN and Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
“Yeah, you kidding me?” Thompson said. “To go from, you know, one of the best players … it’s hard for anybody. I’ll be honest with you. It’s very hard.”
A five-time All-Star who led the NBA in three-pointers last season, Thompson is making 37.1% of his attempts from beyond the arc in 2023/24. That’s a solid rate for many players, but for Thompson, it represents a career low. Additionally, his 17.1 points per game are the fewest he has averaged since 2012/13.
“He’s fine,” head coach Steve Kerr said on Monday, according to Bontemps. “This is a season where he’s had a lot of ups and downs. It’s not easy for a guy who’s been so good and a Hall of Fame player to deal with the injuries and … it’s never easy for any player, getting older. (But) he’s mentally tough.”
Kerr added that, while there’s a “spotlight” on Thompson because of his career résumé, the story on Monday should be about how well role players like Santos, Moses Moody, and Lester Quinones performed off the bench to help the Warriors secure a road win. Thompson highlighted those performances by his teammates in explaining why he’s trying not to let his late-game benching bother him.
“I’ve accepted it,” Thompson said. “You can be mad. But I’m not going to be mad. I’m happy for these young guys. Yeah, we won. It’s hard to get wins in this league. … It’s all good. These guys played great. Gui played great. BP (Brandin Podziemski). Jonathan (Kuminga). At the end of the day, winning trumps all.”
Thompson is on an expiring contract and his name has popped up occasionally in the rumor mill leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline, but ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently reported the Warriors have no interest in moving the veteran sharpshooter.