It could be several more months before the Golden State Warriors see five-time All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson on the court for the first time since he suffered a torn right ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals.
Thompson missed the entire 2019-20 season before suffering a torn right Achilles' tendon a month before the 2020-21 campaign. He is still recovering from his second straight season-ending injury 11 months later. The Warriors did not share a specific timeline for Thompson's return, and the closest general manager Bob Myers came to offering a date was "sometime maybe in December, maybe in January, I don't know when."
Thompson will participate in non-contact drills in training camp. He has not been cleared to scrimmage.
"If you were to watch Klay, certainly, at this point working out, if you didn't know, you'd say, 'Well, this guy looks like he can play now,'" Myers told reporters at Monday's media availability. "But he hasn't played 5-on-5 in quite some time, so that's up to the training staff and it's up to the individuals to see when that's the right time to come back. But we'll tell you. I just don't have the exact answer to those questions yet."
Myers suggested Thompson could spend time with the Warriors' G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, where he can more easily use practice time to get into game shape during the regular season. The decision to return to game action will be a joint one between Thompson and the team's director of sports medicine, Dr. Rick Celebrini. Whatever the date of his return, Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters that Thompson will make his season debut in a home game at the 2-year-old Chase Center, where he has yet to perform.
Kerr said the Warriors' medical staff has "studied carefully" the troubling history of Achilles' injuries in the NBA, given ruptures suffered by Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins in recent years. Cousins has never been the same. Durant missed the entirety of the 2019-20 season and played at an All-Star level in 35 games last season before reestablishing himself as one of the NBA's best players during the 2021 playoffs.
"I know Klay has been in touch with Kevin Durant, and they have talked about Kevin's return and healing process," said Kerr. "We need to give Klay some time. He's in great shape. He's going to take part in a lot of training camp coming up. No contact yet, but a lot of the activities. He's real excited about where he is."
Kerr would not commit to a starting shooting guard in Thompson's absence. The Warriors drafted wings Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody in the lottery. They also re-signed Andre Iguodala and added Otto Porter Jr. to an incumbent group of wings that includes Andrew Wiggins and Juan Toscano-Anderson.
Wiggins' status for home games is in question moving forward, given his opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine. San Francisco's vaccine mandate for indoor gatherings prevents Wiggins from playing at Chase Center for as long as the regulations are in place, and the NBA denied his request for a religious exemption.
"Back is definitely against the wall. Just going to keep fighting for what I believe, whether it's one thing or another, get the vaccination or not get the vaccination, who knows," Wiggins said on Monday, denying multiple requests to explain the beliefs for which he is fighting. "I'm just going to keep fighting for what I believe and what I believe is right. What's right to one person isn't right to the other, you know, vice versa."
The Warriors are also without second-year big man James Wiseman, who is still recovering from a mid-April surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee. Myers said Wiseman is expected to be cleared fully to participate in training camp on Oct. 15, when Golden State is scheduled to play its final preseason game. Wiseman is unlikely to be available for the Oct. 19 regular-season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers.
"It will be how fast does he get up to speed as far as not having played in so long, and I can't really tell you when that will be," said Myers, who suggested Wiseman could join Thompson in spending time with the Santa Cruz Warriors to start the season. "I don't think we'll rush it. Same with Klay. Different injuries. Different time off. But it's hard to know how long it takes for a player to get back into basketball shape."
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