Klay Thompson: Speculation over free agency exit mounts

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 24: Klay Thompson
OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 24: Klay Thompson /

Klay Thompson has been a major contributor to the Golden State Warriors’ success over the past seven years. His upcoming free agency in 2019 is causing speculation.

Klay Thompson, the Golden State Warriors‘ torchy shooting guard, has been the subject of rampant speculation this summer.

When you’re under the spotlight, and do something as simple as, change your hair style, people freak out, question your loyalty, and ask, “Who ARE you?”

That he spent part of the summer hanging out with Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton only adds fuel to the fire.

Teammate Andre Iguodala, who would have been one of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters in another era, tweeted a cryptic comment implying that Thompson was being recruited by Walton.

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Thompson has previously stated his desire to stay with the Warriors long term. But free agency is a time to listen to pitches and consider all possibilities.

The reasons for him to be interested in the Lakers are compelling and logical – he grew up in Los Angeles, his father played for the dynastic Lakers, and he knows Walton well from the latter’s days as a Warriors assistant coach.

Thompson will be a free agent next summer and will be highly coveted by any team trying to dethrone the Warriors. As noted before, Thompson is a tough three-and-D player who would upgrade anyone’s starting lineup, so any interest by the Lakers should come as no surprise.

(Of course Kawhi Leonard is interested in LA, but questions surrounding his circumstances in Toronto won’t be answered until this season has played out.)

Thompson’s circumstance raises the question of why anyone would want to leave the Warriors. Financial considerations are important, of course, but it’s not as simple as comparing salaries across teams.

No matter what he decides, Klay Thompson is on a Hall of Fame trajectory. The four-time All-Star has three championship rings and counting, and could finish his career with over 3,000 three-pointers. At 28 years of age, Thompson is just entering his prime.

He once scored 37 points in one quarter. Another time he scored 60 points in 29 minutes while taking only 11 dribbles. He buried the OKC Thunder in the 2016 playoffs. Players like this have options.

Here are some of the questions Klay may consider next summer.

Question one: do I enjoy going to work every day?

People always point to the amount of talent that the Golden State Warriors have. But it’s the culture of an organization that makes its success sustainable. It’s true in families, in business, and in sport.

Does Thompson want to continue playing on a team that minimizes egos, values him, and plays to his strengths? Or would he want to join a team with a new alpha male and an uncertain culture, especially where the chances of winning a championship are less than where he is now?

In considering a move to LA, Thompson would have to weigh what it’s like to play with LeBron James (one of the top three players of all time, depending on which era you grew up in).

It would be a coup for LeBron to have a dependable Klay Thompson join the Lakers, given his frustrations with prior teammates. But it’s also not easy playing with LeBron, as others will attest.

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Question two: what do I want my legacy to be?

As the great Ricky Bobby once said, “if you’re not first, you’re last.” We live in a culture of winners and losers. Thompson has a good probabilistic chance of winning five or more rings in Golden State.

In doing so, Thompson would join a select few, including the 1960s Boston Celtics players, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant, in this pantheon of one-for-the-thumb-plus winners. If he goes somewhere else, his odds decrease significantly.

Question three: is money more important than questions one and two?

If you’re an average NBA player, by all means maximize your income during your brief window of opportunity. The elite players have the luxury of choice.

By all accounts, Klay lives a simple, happy life with his dog Rocco. He’s not trying to get into Hollywood or buy a sports franchise. So while more money is (generally) better than less, should he sacrifice quality of life for the pursuit of uber-wealth?

Next. Stephen Curry expected to join top five in career threes this season. dark

Whatever Klay Thompson decides, no one could blame him. Players and fans (outside of the Oklahoma City area) know that, as a player with a limited shelf life, you have to go and get yours, in whatever form that may take.