Klay Thompson’s brick fest in play-in could be final Warriors game, but don’t bet on it

The rapid decline of Klay Thompson was one of the most sobering storylines of the NBA season. Thompson was once the second greatest shooter alive behind teammate Stephen Curry, with the “Splash Brothers” joining forces with Draymond Green to bring four NBA championships to the Golden State Warriors. Thompson’s career hasn’t been the same since tearing his ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals and then tearing his Achilles while rehabbing the knee injury.

Now 34 years old, the wear and tear on Thompson’s body caught up to him in full this season. The future Hall of Fame inductee was initially combative with the media when asked about his drop off in play. Eventually, Thompson reached acceptance, and shared an honest and transparent view of what it’s like to be a great athlete falling from the top of their game.

The Warriors’ season is now over after a 118-95 defeat at the hands of the Sacramento Kings in the 9-10 game of the play-in tournament. Thompson had a disastrous performance that his team just could not overcome. His final line was ugly:

  • 0 points
  • 0-for-10 shooting from the floor
  • 0-for-6 shooting from three-point range
  • 32 minutes

At first glance, Klay still looks like Klay on the court, running many of the same actions that once keyed Golden State’s dynasty. The difference now is the shots aren’t falling, and he’s a step slow on the other end defensively. It was too much for the Warriors to overcome against a locked in Sacramento team playing in front of a charged home crowd looking for revenge for last season’s first round defeat to Golden State.

Thompson is now set to enter free agency this summer, and his future with the Warriors is very much in question. Golden State is deep into the luxury tax for a team that wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs this year. Curry is still performing at a superstar level, but he needs more help. Thompson isn’t capable of being his co-star anymore. After the game, head coach Steve Kerr talked about what Thompson has meant to the organization.

Kerr also said the Warriors “need Klay back.” Of course, that will have to come with a steep pay cut from the $43.2 million he made this season.

Thompson soaked in the scene in Sacramento after the loss, wondering if was the last time he’d put on a Warriors jersey. That decision will depend on a few things, mainly: how much payroll does Warriors ownership want to cut, what will Thompson’s market look like elsewhere, and what’s a fair number for his potential return? According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Warriors are planning to re-sign Thompson.

If you just looked at the most basic stats, Thompson’s year didn’t seem so bad. He averaged 17.9 points per game and shot 38.7 percent from three-point range. At the same time, the Warriors had a negative net-rating when Thompson was on the floor. There was a reason he lost his starting spot for so much of this season to rookie Brandin Podziemski.

It would be deeply sad if an 0-for-10 game was the last time we saw Thompson with the Warriors. He deserves so much better after grinding to come back from two devastating injuries after being one of the most electric shooters in league history. The Warriors face some tough decisions if they want to build another contender around Curry. That starts with Thompson’s free agency.

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