OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors, who made a fifth straight appearance in the NBA Finals despite a litany of injuries to their superstar roster, suffered a further blow in their Game 6 loss Thursday night when all-star guard Klay Thompson tore the ACL in his left knee.
The Warriors lost Kevin Durant in Game 5 to a torn Achilles’ tendon, and already were hampered by injuries to DeMarcus Cousins, Kevon Looney and Andre Iguodala. Golden State was forced to use its fifth starting lineup of the series in Game 6 because of various injuries.
Durant and Thompson will be free agents in the offseason. Now the Warriors must decide what to do about next year’s roster. Coach Steve Kerr said Thursday that Durant “is going to miss next season.” Thompson’s injury isn’t quite as severe, but his return probably wouldn’t come before the all-star break at the earliest.
Kerr said after the game he could hardly believe what he was seeing when Thompson went down.
"It’s amazement that we’re sitting in this position with — during the game, we have a chance to win the game and force a Game 7, go back to Toronto — you just think: ‘How? How has this group of guys put themselves in position to do it?’ And then, as I said, when Klay goes down and is out for the game, it’s just sort of a, ‘You got to be kidding me. This has to stop.’
“But it’s just — the way it’s gone, I don’t know if it’s related to five straight seasons of playing 100-plus games and just all the wear and tear, but it’s devastating.”
Durant could make the Warriors’ offseason decisions a little easier if he departs via free agency, as he has been rumored to be planning for some time. But Golden State probably needs to do whatever it takes to keep Thompson, 29, who teammate Draymond Green said Thursday “has the most heart on this team.”
Golden State has good reason to believe, given the shooting guard’s age and health history, that he will return to all-star level play. The decision on Thompson goes beyond his pure production, though, given his ideal fit alongside Stephen Curry, his immense local popularity and his proven postseason shot-making.
Thompson’s injury came with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter and he left the arena on crutches, as Durant had done the game before. He had scored 30 points and was averaging nearly 21 a game in the postseason.