Klay Thompson put up 54 points Monday as the Golden State Warriors face tough decisions with Thompson and Draymond Green before summer 2024.
Given all the events that transpired in the sports world Monday night, you may have missed out on an incredible performance by Klay Thompson, whose 54 points, 10 3-pointers, and eight rebounds led the Golden State Warriors to a thrilling double-overtime win over the Atlanta Hawks.
It was the second-highest point total in a single game in his career, having put up 60 on Dec. 5, 2016, and the seventh time he’s knocked down double-digit treys in a game. As Golden State looks to remain afloat in the Western Conference playoff and play-in race at 20-18 and ninth in the conference as it defends its NBA title, Thompson remains an integral part of the team.
The 32-year-old with four rings to his name missed two-and-a-half seasons with knee and Achilles injuries that most would not have come back from. As he discussed with Boardroom last summer before receiving his Comeback Athlete of the Year award at the ESPYs, Klay’s love of the water and of basketball helped him through tough days of rehab and darkness. To endure what Thompson went through and still manage to average 20 points a game and 38.6% from deep is a tremendous accomplishment that should not be overlooked.
But decisions loom for general manager Bob Myers and the Warriors over the next 18 months. Thompson is in the fourth year of a five-year, $189.9 million contract that pays him $40.6 million this year and $43.2 million in 2023-2024. He also has a 15% trade kicker in the highly unlikely scenario Golden State tried to move him.
In winning the championship last season led by the “old” trio of Thompson, Stephen Curry, and Draymond Green while also developing young talent, Myers and the Dubs achieved something teams talk about doing but so seldom actually pull off. Jordan Poole, 23, inked a four-year, $123 million extension before the season, and 27-year-old Andrew Wiggins agreed to a four-year, $109 million pact. James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and Patrick Baldwin represent key young pieces Golden State is trying to bring along to extend the team’s lengthy title window.
Green, whose fight with Poole in early October dominated the NBA news cycle then, is making $25.8 million this season and has a $27.5 million player option for next season. Dray and Klay are two linchpins of the Warriors dynasty, yet face uncertain futures with the team beyond the summer of 2024.
Golden State has the league’s highest payroll this year at just over $193 million, and already has $193 million on the books for 2023-2024 — a couple hundred thousand shy of the Los Angeles Clippers for the most committed money next season — $124 million committed for 2024-2025, and $120.9 million on the books for 2025-2025. The next NBA media rights deal could push the salary cap so high as to make these current concerns irrelevant in the future, but at some point, the Warriors will have to decide whether they can still remain championship contenders with Thompson and Green taking up significant percentages of their cap sheet without facing a Steve Cohen-esque amount in luxury tax payments.
As things stand currently, flashes of brilliance like Klay displayed Monday still make him worth the price tag, and few things in the NBA are more fun to watch than when Thompson’s shooting gets hotter than the earth’s core, with NBA Jam-style heat checks sending the home crowds into fits of frenzy.
However, how long Golden State keeps the band together as the team hovers around .500 — 17-2 at home and 3-16 on the road — is something the team will have to address as it continues on its current path of keeping its champions together while building toward the future.
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