Rumor: Warriors star Klay Thompson unhappy as free agency nears

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That rumor about Warriors star Klay Thompson preferring the Clippers to the Lakers in free agency?

It might matter, after all.

Stephen A. Smith of ESPN:

I’m not speaking about opinion here. I got this from a few people.

I have not spoken to Klay Thompson, in fairness to Klay Thompson. Let me be clear about that. I’m told Klay Thompson isn’t happy. His number hasn’t been called nearly enough. He’s tired of sitting around and getting quote, unquote – this is a quote – the crumbs left behind by other people.

There have been numerous indications Thompson will re-sign with Golden State. But it doesn’t matter how he felt previously. It matters how he feels in July.

To that end, it matters only so much how he feels now. The Warriors are in the midst of a playoff run that could shape Thompson’s outlook. If they win another title, that could satisfy him into staying – or convince him to move onto another challenge. If they fall short, that could push him out – or motivate him to return and avenge the setback. I don’t know how each result would affect him personally, but this is an important time for making an impression.

Thompson has been stuck as third option behind Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. With Durant playing at an all-time level and Curry trying to shoot his way into a groove, Thompson has his lowest playoff usage percentage (19.0) since his first postseason, 2013.

But this predicament won’t necessarily continue. If Durant leaves Golden State, would Thompson – who’d be in line to resume his role as second scorer – also bolt?

The Warriors can offer far more money. His projected max for re-signing is $190 over five years (or $221 million over five years if he makes an All-NBA team this season). His projected max with another team is just $141 million over four years.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this leak is at least partially about gaining leverage in contract negotiations. Golden State pays Curry a super-max salary, wants to re-sign Durant and talks about keeping Draymond Green long-term. Squeezing Thompson could be part of the plan, and he reportedly doesn’t plan to take a discount.

Still, there’s a little smoke here. A fire? Not sure.

I still think Thompson will re-sign. But – for all the attention put on Durant’s free agency – we ought to take seriously the idea Thompson could depart, too.