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OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors star guard Klay Thompson was seeking a max contract this summer in free agency, but the offseason could now get a little complicated for the sharpshooter.
Thompson, who emerged as a vocal leader during the NBA Finals, tore his left ACL late in the third quarter of the Warriors’ 114-110 loss Thursday in Game 6 that gave the Toronto Raptors their first championship.
Thompson is expected to miss up to nine to 10 months, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
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But Warriors owner Joe Lacob says the priority remains bringing back the five-time All-Star shooting guard.
“I don’t know yet what we’re going to do [with Klay],” Lacob told Yahoo Sports. “I’ve said for a long time I want Klay to be a Warrior for life, and so this doesn’t change anything as far as I’m concerned.”
Thompson’s first choice is to re-sign with the only NBA franchise he’s played for, but should any obstacles materialize, he will weigh other suitors, sources said.
The 6-foot-7 guard suffered the injury when he went up for a dunk. He was hacked by Danny Green and came down awkwardly on his left leg, and his knee buckled as his foot made contact with the hardwood. It was the same leg that sustained a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the Warriors’ Game 3 loss.
He stayed on the floor grimacing in pain for several minutes Thursday night before being helped to the locker room.
Because he was fouled on the play, he was required to shoot his free throws if he had any intention of returning to the game.
A minute later, a hobbled Thompson emerged from the tunnel to a rousing ovation and made both shots. The Warriors then immediately fouled to get him out of the game for treatment. Thompson would not return.
“If they would have let him stay out there he would have stayed,” Draymond Green said of Thompson. “That's just who he is. You see him try to run back down the floor like, ‘What are you doing?’ But that's Klay. How many people [are] going to play with a hamstring injury? No one. Like no one does that. So that's just the way he is, man. That guy is ... he's a warrior, and obviously that's no pun intended with that, but there's no other way to describe him.”
Thompson was the best player on the court, scoring a game-high 30 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, and 10-of-10 from the free-throw line while pulling down five boards in 32 minutes.
“It's just tough in terms of a guy like Klay that left it all out there,” Stephen Curry said. “He was playing amazing tonight. And to see a freak play like that where he lands awkwardly. … But you think about the person and the guy and how much he loves to play the game and that's the only thoughts you have. It's really not about what it means in terms of playing basketball. It's just I'm more concerned about him as an individual.”
It was the second consecutive game in which the Warriors suffered a catastrophic injury to a marquee player who is slated to be a free agent. Kevin Durant ruptured his right Achilles in Game 5, and it is anticipated that he will miss the entire 2019-20 season.
Should the Warriors re-sign both players — which doesn’t seem likely — they wouldn’t get Thompson back until the end of the season, and in the Western Conference that would be a tough road to travel.
“I think everybody thinks it's kind of the end of us. But that's just not smart,” Green said. “We're not done yet.”
The free-agent negotiating period begins June 30.
“I’m not going to say anything because the free-agency period isn’t here yet,” Lacob told Yahoo Sports. “You know I have the utmost regard for Klay’s talent and for him as a person. I’m pretty sure we’ll talk this summer, and he’ll hopefully be a Warrior for life.”
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