If it seems that all the Warriors do is add all-star players — and championship rings — well, that’s certainly been the case of late. However, we might see the first defection of a core Golden State player next summer, when Klay Thompson is set to hit free agency.
Or we might not, given recent comments by the shooting guard, as well as by his father, Mychal Thompson. “Oh yeah, you can mark it down,” the elder Thompson, a former NBA player and champion in his own right, said Saturday (via the San Francisco Chronicle). “Klay’s going to retire in the Warriors’ uniform.”
“I’ve said it many times before: I would like to be a Warrior for life,” Klay Thompson said (via the East Bay Times).
So, that’s the good news for Warriors fans. The bad news is that Thompson also had this to say: “At the end of the day, I’m going to be a free agent in 2019. Number one on my list would obviously be to stay with the Warriors.”
Thompson could show his desire to remain a Warrior for life by signing an extension this season, but he would be potentially leaving some very large amounts of money on the table. A four-year extension could be worth $102 million (as noted by NBA salary cap analyst Albert Nahmad earlier this year), while a five-year, maximum contract signed with the team next summer could haul in almost $188 million.
Then there’s the possibility of the “super max,” for which Thompson could qualify if he makes an all-NBA team this season and which would be worth as much as $219 million. That’s a lot of incentive for the four-time all-star to hit the market, and that’s before getting to Golden State’s side of the equation.
If the Warriors want to keep their core of Thompson, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green together, they are going have to shell out mind-boggling sums in future luxury-tax and repeater-tax payments, on top of salary obligations. Curry has already received a supermax deal worth over $200 million, to which he agreed last year, while Green is set to reach free agency in 2020.
Durant signed a two-year deal this summer, but it has a player option for the 2019-20 season that could allow him to become a free agent again in 2019. Thus the Warriors might lose both him and Thompson next year, and if the team decides it makes financial sense to ink just one to a massive new deal, it likely would choose Durant, who has been named NBA Finals MVP the past two seasons.
Unfortunately for the rest of the NBA, the Warriors might be well-positioned to just splash the cash and hang on to everybody. Not only is the team majority-owned by a billionaire, Joe Lacob, who has pledged to do “whatever we can” to keep his championship core intact, Golden State is moving into a new arena in San Francisco, generating huge new revenue to go with the spoils of all its postseason success.
“He’s got such a good thing here. The Warriors have such a special thing here,” Mychal Thompson said of his son. “For the next six or seven years, they’re going to be championship material, they’re not going to break that up.
“The [Michael Jordan] Bulls were broken up too prematurely,” he continued. “Joe Lacob and [co-owner] Peter Guber aren’t going to let that happen. Are you kidding? They can afford it.
“They’re the Warriors, this is the Bay Area, they got a beautiful arena, and money’s no object for this team.”
“Contract negotiations are way down the line,” Klay Thompson said. “But I think we all have the same interest. I would love to be here for the rest of my career.”
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