We are two years away from Klay Thompson having to really answer this question. Which is a couple of lifetimes in the NBA — a lot can change. Discussing contracts that far out is speculation.
For those next two years, the Golden State Warriors should be dominant. Then in the summer of 2019, Klay Thompson becomes a free agent, and if he leaves for more money or more the opportunity to be a first option on another team, it could the first domino to fall in the crumbling of the Warriors.
Which is why it was news when Thompson recently told The Athletic he would consider taking a discount to stay, when the time comes. Thompson expounded on those thoughts while speaking to reporters in China, including Mark Medina of the San Jose Mercury News.
“We’re talking like 24 months away,” Thompson said before practice on Wednesday at Shenzhen City Arena. “But it’s something that definitely crossed my mind, especially when you see guys like Kevin (Durant) doing it.”
Durant took nearly $9 million less than he could have squeezed out of the Warriors, but did so with the understanding the team would bring back Andre Iguodala and Shawn Livingston. They did. Durant could afford to do that because he makes more in endorsements off the court than he does on it.
Thompson said he is in the same situation, what makes the idea of a discount possible is all his off-the-court income. He recently signed a 10-year extension with Chinese shoe company Anta worth a reported $80 million. He also has sponsorships with BODYARMOR Sports Drink and Built with Chocolate Milk. That extra money makes it possible for him to take a discount now.
“100 percent, it’d be different if I was making scraps off the court,” Thompson said. “But I’ve been very blessed to be a part of winning team. When you’re part of a winning team, everybody gets to eat. So that’s why I’m indebted to the guys around me. Without them, I would not have the deals that I have.”
Thompson has long seemed less concerned with the status that comes with a max contract. Maybe it’s having grown up with an NBA playing father, but he has always put winning first.
Whether he will do that in two years is impossible to predict, but if anyone would consider it Thompson would be the guy.