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Klay Thompson says he wants to re-sign with Warriors, with a free-agency caveat

Klay Thompson has spent his entire NBA career with the Golden State Warriors. They drafted him with the No. 11 pick in 2011, and since then he has won four championships and made five All-Star teams. He has also returned from both an ACL tear and an Achilles tear, which cost him the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons.

It is weird to even imagine Thompson in another uniform. He and the Warriors, however, have been unable to negotiate a contract extension, so the 34-year-old future Hall of Famer is set to hit free agency this coming offseason.

With all of that in mind, during an episode of “The Draymond Green Show,” published Monday, Thompson’s longtime teammate asked him what is important to him as he embarks on the last segment of his career. Thompson’s answer was almost four minutes long; the gist was that, after initially struggling to deal with his uncertain future, he’s trying to stay in the moment. He wants to re-sign with the Warriors, but he doesn’t want to think about free agency until it’s time to weigh the pros and cons.

Thompson said he had “four real heart-to-heart talks” with coach Steve Kerr this season. The “hardest part of my career,” he said, was coming to terms with not being able to do everything he used to do on the court. He said once he accepted that, he “can still be a heck of a player” and have fun. Thompson “relaxed a little bit, rather than trying to play for a contract or an All-Star nod or some accolade.” He said he still appreciates playing cards and ping-pong with his teammates after games.

“That’s the beauty of the game right there,” Thompson said. “Not trying to get another max deal or another endorsement, but just smelling the roses and appreciating all the work it took to get here. In saying that, when it comes to free agency in July, I just gotta keep that in mind. Like, yes, I want to re-sign with the Dubs, but I also have to prioritize my mental health and lay out what is important to me at this point in my career. And I know we have so much basketball ahead that I haven’t given it much thought, really, because if I start thinking about July 1st, then I’m just doing myself a disservice. I’m not here. I’m not thinking about the Hornets tomorrow or these must-win games this weekend, so for me, it’s just about staying present, as simple as that is. Staying present and appreciating being in the NBA.”

Based on his reference to a game against Charlotte the following day, the interview was likely recorded on March 28. Thompson ended up sitting out against the Hornets with right knee tendonitis, but has since dropped 29 points on 11-for-15 shooting and 32 points on 12-for-23 shooting in wins against the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz. After the Jazz game, The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami described the Orlando Magic’s interest in signing Thompson in free agency as “one of the worst-kept secrets in the league” and noted that Golden State owner Joe Lacob has said the franchise would like to get out of luxury-tax territory this summer. The shooting-starved Magic sure could use one of the best snipers in NBA history.

Thompson has had an up-and-down season, but he’s finishing it in a way that should raise his value. His podcast appearance, however, is much more interesting as a window into how he has reckoned with his basketball mentality than it is as a predictor of what might happen in free agency, even during the part that is ostensibly about free agency. Of course, Thompson wants to sign another contract with the Warriors, but, in addition to all the stuff about staying in the moment, it would be silly of him to be definitive about that. Leverage is important.

Looking for more NBA coverage? John Gonzalez, Bill Reiter, Ashley Nicole Moss and special guests dive deep into the league’s biggest storylines daily on the Beyond the Arc podcast.

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