The impending free agency of a star player is always a lingering undercurrent in professional sports.
It was a topic that came up for Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson on Thursday in Los Angeles ahead of Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game. Unless a contract extension is worked out, Thompson will become an unrestricted free agent in 2019. With so many lucrative contracts on Golden State’s payroll, it’d be natural for Thompson to test the free agent waters.
That could happen, but he told the San Jose Mercury News that he wants to stay with the Warriors for the duration of his NBA career.
“Playing for one team your whole career is definitely special. Only so many guys have done it in professional sports, so it’ll be a goal of mine,” Thompson said. “Hopefully it all works out.”
On a team where he is accompanied by Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Draymond Green, all of whom are fellow all-stars, Thompson has served as the team’s incredibly reliable outside threat while often guarding the opponent’s best player. Entering the All-Star break, Thompson is averaging 20.1 points per game while shooting 45.5 percent from long distance.
At 28 years old with two NBA titles under his belt, one could wonder if Thompson would entertain the idea of pursuing another opportunity where he is his team’s top option offensively. According to his father, Mychal, that doesn’t align with Klay’s priority list. Winning does.
Of course there’s that whole contract thing, too. Golden State would need to get creative to lock up Thompson with a deal for Durant presumably on the to-do list. Durant took less than the maximum last offseason in order for Golden State to keep role players like Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala and others in the fold.
“His future depends on Warriors management and Warriors ownership,” Mychal said of Klay. “He wants to stay there and has no intention of leaving. He has no desire to leave. As long as he’s producing and playing well, he’s hoping the Warriors want him as much as he wants them.”
The Warriors have committed $86 million in salary for when Thompson becomes a free agent in 2019, well shy of their current $135 million payroll. But that does not account for Durant’s contract, regardless of whether he opts out of his $26 million player option this summer for a larger deal.
The Warriors, at 44-14 (a half game behind Houston for the best record in the league) say they will cross that bridge when they get there. For now, the focus is on repeating as NBA champions.
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