Klay Thompson becomes eligible for higher qualifying offer

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By starting the Warriors win over the Kings last night, Klay Thompson positioned himself to make a little more money next season.

Of course, Thompson’s preferred way to get paid is a contract extension, but Golden State has yet to make a max offer. So, Thompson must consider contingencies.

That’s where last night’s start comes in.

Based on the rookie salary scale, Thompson – the No. 11 pick in the 2011 draft – was slated to receive a $4,210,880 qualifying offer next summer. But the Collective Bargaining Agreement allows players chosen below No. 9 to increase their qualifying offer – in Thompson’s case, to $4,433,683 – if they meet the starter criteria.

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There are four ways for a player to meet the starter criteria:

  • Start 82 games in his third and fourth seasons combined
  • Play 4,000 minutes in his third and fourth seasons combined
  • Start 41 games in his fourth season
  • Play 2,000 minutes in his fourth season

To qualify, Thompson needed to start one game or play 1,132 minutes this season.

Obviously, it was EXTREMELY likely he’d qualify, but there was always a chance something went wrong. Steve Kerr could have dropped Thompson from the starting lineup to balance units. Thompson could have gotten hurt.

But now the higher qualifying offer is a lock.

If the Thompson and the Warriors are still a few million dollars per season apart on a contract extension, he’s likely headed toward free agency next offseason anyway. But if they’re closer, a higher qualifying offer could nudge Thompson ever so slightly to rejecting an extension.

If that happens, the Warriors will extend the qualifying offer, even though it’s costlier. Thompson is well worth $4,433,683 for a season.

For Thompson, this just improves his options if he becomes a free agent this summer. He could re-sign with the Warriors or pursue a Chandler Parsons-style offer sheet (three years with a player option), but the qualifying offer remains in his back pocket. Now, he knows he’d get an extra $222,803 if he takes the it – then become an unrestricted free agent just as the new national TV contracts kick in.

One start gave Thompson just a little more security.

But as he knows, the most security comes with a contract extension before tomorrow’s deadline.