When it comes to NBA free agency, players typically like to keep their cards close to their chest. even days leading up to their decision.
It’s been a trend almost every marquee free agent has followed. Seldom will we get prospective free agents coming forward before free agency rolls around to let the media and fans know what their plans may be. One of the most recent examples is, of course, Paul George, who let the Indiana Pacers know that he’ll be testing the free agent waters, prompting the Pacers to trade him to OKC as to not lose him for nothing during the offseason.
It’s more common, however, for players to let the world know they’re happy exactly where they are before hitting free agency, hinting to their respective free agents they’d like to re-sign with the team, something Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson did on Friday, via The San Jose Mercury-News’ Mark Medina:
“Absolutely,” he said. “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. Hopefully it all works out.”
“It’s so far away. Anything I can do to stay with the Warriors is first and foremost. God willing, it happens. If not, I don’t even think about that.”
Obviously, Thompson is an integral part of what the Warriors do on both offense and defense, and if you replaced Klay with almost any other shooting guard in the league, Golden State would most likely end up worse off because of it.
So the Warriors want to bring Klay back, and Klay wants to be back, but with three other All-Stars on the roster, can the Warriors afford to bring Klay back?
Two-time MVP Steph Curry is on the books for the next five years, taking up $201 million of the Warriors cap space over that time. Kevin Durant is under contract until the end of next season, but with a player option, is expected to opt out of the last year of the deal in order to sign a similar deal to Curry‘s, leaving a lot of money tied up in two players. Draymond Green will hit free agency in 2020, leaving Klay Thompson, who becomes a free agent after next season.
With so much money being paid to Curry and KD, and — predictably — even more money going Green’s way, Thompson is going to have to leverage the Warriors hard to get paid what he thinks he’s worth. Given that the Warriors drafted Klay, owning his Bird rights, Golden State can go over the cap limit to re-sign him, but alongside the other three All-Stars, the Warriors — who already own the largest luxury tax bill in the league at the moment — could increase that bill even further.
So what it ultimately comes down to is if the Warriors’ ownership is happy to fork out millions of dollars to keep the championship core in the Bay, or opt to go the Oklahoma City route, trading away one of their young stars because they don’t want to pay him, and watch him flourish into an even bigger star.