Klay reveals biggest priorities as NBA free agency approaches

Klay reveals biggest priorities as NBA free agency approaches originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Klay Thompson and the Warriors didn't agree on a contract extension before the start of the 2023-24 NBA season, and the sharpshooter is set to become a free agent this summer barring an in-season agreement.

While Thompson acknowledged that he would like to re-sign with the only NBA team he's ever played for, he joined "The Draymond Green Show" and revealed what is a priority and what will be important to him before making a decision.

"I just can't believe it's here. When you're in your mid-20s, it's so crazy, you think you're going to play forever," Thompson said. "And you think if you maintain that athletic level, it seems effortless. But then as time goes on, you realize how demanding this job really is. It's so physically demanding. I was actually struggling a lot with that at the beginning of this year because of the unknown. I might've let contract situations or playing time or making up a lot of excuses rather than just appreciating what is in front of me. It took me and [Warriors coach] Steve [Kerr] like four real, heart-to-heart talks to finally break my shell. Being like you know what? I got to have fun this year. I deserve to have fun. We worked so hard to win these games and play into June, have fans on the road. My first couple of years, there might have been a few Steph Curry jerseys in the crowd. Now it's like a whole contingent of Warriors fans on the road.

"I was kind of grappling with that this year, it's almost like your own mortality as an athlete like, 'Damn I might not be able to elevate like I once did or I might not slide my feet left to right like I once did, but I can still be a heck of a player if I just give gratitude and keep that perspective like I'm out here balling.' That was hard for me these last few years. When you go through injuries, you're so used to playing at a certain level, guarding a certain guy, shooting certain shots. Then you have to adjust all of that. That was the hardest part of my career. And it's still hard for me when I'm used to scoring 25 in a quarter, locking up the best player. Now I got to pick my spots a little more precisely, which is fine. I've finally come to understand I can be a heck of a player, I can still be incredibly efficient."

The Warriors guard has gone through ups and downs since working his way back to the court following two serious back-to-back injuries.

As fierce as a competitor as he is, Thompson has admitted that he was chasing accolades and trying to force his way back to his former, pre-injured self.

But after several conversations with Kerr and those close to him, he's beginning to realize what actually is important to him.

"As long as I'm having fun and being a good teammate, and you actually helped me a ton when you told me, 'Lean into these young guys, lean into the fact that you're a vet, you've made X amount of money, you don't have to worry about anything. You're playing for the love of the game.' And I think once I realized that and I relaxed a little bit, rather than playing for a contract or All-Star nod or some accolade, but rather just play for the love of the game. The fact that I get to play cards with guys on the plane, we were playing ping pong last night after the game, we're having fun. That's the beauty of the game right there. Not trying to get another max deal or another endorsement.

"Just smelling the roses and appreciating all the work it took to get here. In saying that, when it comes to free agency in July, I just got to keep that in mind. Yes, I want to re-sign with the Dubs, but I also have to prioritize my mental health and lay out what is important to me at this point in my career. I know we have so much basketball ahead that I haven't given it much thought. Because if I start thinking about July 1, then I'm just doing myself a disservice. For me it's just about staying present, as simple as that is. Staying present and appreciating being in the NBA."

For now, Thompson and the Warriors are focused on making a deep playoff run.

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