But while there are near daily updates on Durant’s thoughts and expectations for next summer, there are virtually none about Klay Thompson’s. Some of that is because, for all of his brilliance, Thompson isn’t on the same level as Durant as a player. But just as important is the fact that, unlike Durant, Thompson knows exactly who he is — and what he wants.
Take his latest offensive explosion — 52 points in 26 minutes, including an NBA record 14 three-pointers, in Monday’s 149-124 rout of the Chicago Bulls. At one point, Thompson had to don a headband after getting a cut on his forehead.
“I looked like Jackie Moon out there,” Thompson told reporters afterward, referencing Will Ferrell’s character in the movie “Semi-Pro.”
“That’s probably why I broke the record.”
Thompson isn’t one to take himself too seriously. He also isn’t one to seek out the spotlight. He is a man focused on few things: namely hitting threes, playing defense and going home to his beloved pet bulldog, Rocco.
It’s a combination that has made him the truly ideal sidekick to play alongside Stephen Curry. And while others might, at some point, carp for more shots or more attention, growing tired of at least partially being eclipsed by Curry’s irrepressible brilliance, Thompson is instead simply appreciative of his place within Golden State’s ecosystem.
Just take, for example, his answer to the question of whether he would be interested to see what free agency is like for the first time in his career next summer, when his contract expires.
“To be honest, not really,” he said. “I think when guys go into free agency they're searching for a situation like mine or similar to our team.
“I’m perfectly content here. Just look around the walls at all the art ... to see I was a part of this buildup is what keeps me motivated, and keeps me wanting to be a Warrior for my whole career.”
The “art” Thompson was referring to was the various pictures adorning the walls of the three championship celebrations taking place over the past four years, and the three championship banners hanging above them. Thompson was an integral part in all of them — and would like to be an integral part in several more.
None of this is to say his approach is right, and Durant’s is wrong — or vice-versa. For Durant, the choice — presuming Golden State wins yet another title this season — between trying to win four titles in a row with the Warriors or taking on perhaps the ultimate challenge in leading, say, the New York Knicks to the franchise’s first title in more than four decades is a fascinating one, with pros and cons on either side.
For Thompson, though, the choice is far simpler. The Los Angeles Lakers would do anything to pair Thompson with James. He is, for so many reasons, the perfect fit next to James. As a shooter who doesn’t need the ball in his hands, he is the ideal complementary player next to James offensively, and his ability to play lockdown defense at the other end of the court certainly doesn’t hurt, either.
The presence of his father, former Laker Mychal Thompson, as the color analyst on the team’s radio broadcast and of head coach Luke Walton, whom he is close with from Walton’s time with the Warriors, only add to the connections he has with the franchise.
But assuming Golden State treats Thompson as it should next July — and there’s no reason to expect anything different to take place — his free agency will likely last about five minutes past midnight on July 1 before he agrees to a long-term contract to remain a Warrior for years to come.
Thompson has no interest in the spotlight. While he is an entertaining quote, he never seeks out interviews. In fact, he often goes out of his way to avoid them, and grumbles to Warriors public relations czar Raymond Ridder whenever he is told he needs to do them.
And while he might not get the same attention as Curry, Durant or even Draymond Green in Golden State, the fact is that if Thompson goes 5 for 36 from three-point range, as he did through the first seven games of the regular season, there is a whole lot less scrutiny attached to doing so when playing alongside three future Hall of Famers (and, when DeMarcus Cousins comes back, four all-stars).
It’s yet another reason that Thompson, unlike many players in his situation, isn’t interested in seeing if the grass is greener on the other side. After four titles in five years, after playing second fiddle to Curry and now Durant, it would be easy to think exploring the open market and seeing what else is out there — and perhaps taking on a new challenge — is the right thing to do.
Durant, playing alongside him, will undoubtedly do that next July. When he does, who knows what his decision will be?
For Thompson, though, the choice is clear. He knows how good he has it, and he has no interest in going elsewhere.
That’s great news for the Warriors — and not so much for everyone else.
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