The Warriors and Klay Thompson’s agent share the same opinion of the shooting guard.
They think very highly of him.
You’d think with their similar mindsets, the Warriors and Thompson’s camp would have no trouble agreeing to a contract extension for the fourth-year guard.
But there has been no movement in recent weeks. As of Thursday morning, the sides remain $2-3 million a year apart, according to NBA sources.
Thompson is seeking a max deal, or something close – at least $15 million per year – while the Warriors, according to sources, hover around $13 million per.
Then there is this: League sources are adamant in saying Timberwolves boss Flip Saunders was prepared to give Thompson a max deal if Minny were to pry Klay away from the Warriors as part of a deal for power forward Kevin Love.
Based on the projected salary cap for 2015-16, when Thompson’s extension would kick in, a max extension would pay $89,138,886 over five years – $17,827,777 per season. If the Warriors offer Thompson less than the max, they can extend him for up to four years.
Golden State and Thompson have until Oct. 31 to reach an agreement, and while the gap is significant, it can be overcome.
Regardless of whether the Warriors extend him, the Warriors will control Thompson’s NBA future at least another two seasons. He’s entering the final year of of his rookie-scale contract, and after that, he’ll either be entering the first year of his extension or hitting restricted free agency.
Typically, I’d say the Warriors should play hardball and then pay Thompson what it takes next summer while they can match any offer he receives. Maybe he’s worth a max contract then, but he can’t be worth more than that, so why guarantee him that much now?
But the new national TV contracts change the equation.
1. It makes it more likely Thompson accepts his $4,210,880 qualifying offer next summer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2016 – right when the salary cap will skyrocket with the new national TV contracts. Players rarely take a qualifying offer over a large long-term contract, and Thompson seems too happy with the Warriors to force his way out as quickly as possible. But the prospect of being an unrestricted free agent in 2016 rather than signing long-term deal that begins in 2015-16 is more appealing than the typical gap between those options.
2. It makes any contract signed now – even max deals – look favorable as the salary cap shoots up. Thompson’s extension will eat up a smaller portion of the salary cap as the cap rises.
A key factor will be how much cap smoothing the NBA enacts for 2015-16. Any smoothing for that season would raise the cap and make a max Thompson extension more costly.
The possibility of smoothing is so up in the air right now, I wouldn’t blame the Warriors for taking this all the way to the Oct. 31 deadline to get as much information as possible.
In the meantime, they can negotiate with Thompson and try to get him to accept a lesser deal.