The Golden State Warriors were dealt a massive blow in the NBA Finals when Kevin Durant ruptured his Achilles and Klay Thompson tore his ACL. It’s assumed that neither will play for the vast majority of next season, but if the Warriors aren’t careful, neither may play for the Warriors again.
According to a report from the Los Angeles Times’ Brad Turner, Thompson will consider joining the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers if the Warriors don’t offer him a five-year, $190 million max deal.
Because Thompson was not named to one of the three All-NBA teams this season, he missed out on the possibility of a super-max contract, which would have elevated the most the Warriors could have offered him from $190 million to $221 million over five years. However, one of the most inexplicable rumors going around the past year is that the Warriors still might not offer him the full max, even with a lower ceiling.
Whether this is posturing for the full $38 million average annual value or if he’s actually considering leaving is up for debate, but it should leave the Warriors worried.
Anthony Davis helped the Lakers’ pitch for Thompson
Perhaps one reason for the report of Thompson’s wandering eye is the fact that the Lakers cleared a massive amount of salary cap space on Thursday.
In convincing Anthony Davis to decline his $4 million trade kicker and dealing three spare parts to the Washington Wizards, the Lakers are up to $32.7 million in cap space. While that’s slightly below the full max level, it’s close enough to potentially convince a third star to join a deeply talented Lakers team.
Thompson would be a near-perfect fit on the Lakers because he’s already shown his ability to thrive on a team without handling the ball much. Playing alongside Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, Thompson thrived as one of the game’s best catch-and-shoot players. He would fill the same role with ball-dominant Davis and LeBron James.
The Lakers will be thrilled if they can land any superstar in free agency, whether it’s Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler or Thompson. But after lacking 3-point shooting last season, giving Thompson an LA homecoming would be quite the heist.
Would Thompson really leave the Warriors for the Clippers?
The idea of joining the Lakers makes plenty of sense. With Davis and James on board, they will be immediate title contenders. The Clippers on the other hand? It’s impressive that they made the playoffs after trading their best player, but they are not on the same level.
The Clippers do have two max slots available and have been considered frontrunners at times for Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant. Landing either would greatly increase Thompson’s interest. Still, that would be quite the leap of faith to abandon potentially the best dynasty of the millennium.
One major selling point for the Warriors is that they supposedly have one of the best medical staffs in the NBA, but it’s been under fire as of late. Thompson will spend most — if not all — of next season rehabbing his knee. Of course, the Clippers have questions of their own on that front. The Lakers represent a much more real threat.
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