July 19, 2024

Negotiations between Klay Thompson, Warriors frozen as free agency looms: Sources

Klay Thompson isn’t currently mulling a shorter-than-desired offer from the Golden State Warriors. Despite a wide open negotiation window, there isn’t a one-year, two-year or three-year deal on the table. Because nothing is currently on the table, according to league sources. There’s been no productive discussion between the Warriors and Thompson or his representatives.

Talks are essentially frozen. With free agency now less than 10 days away, Thompson’s exit from the only franchise he has ever known feels closer and more probable than ever before.

The Warriors have outwardly maintained their desire to bring Thompson back at the right price and in the right role, per league sources, but have viewed his situation as business to sort through after various other roster-building avenues have been explored. They’ve been actively searching for paths to larger-scale upgrades, using Chris Paul’s non-guaranteed $30 million contract as a flexible tool. There’s been talk with Paul about possibly pushing that guarantee date back from June 28 into July, if necessary, per league sources, which would only be telling Thompson to wait longer.

If the Warriors can acquire a big name, high-salary player, that would significantly impact what they’re able to offer Thompson, considering their plan to duck the second apron and perhaps drop below the tax entirely. This calculated business approach — which has merit, considering the Warriors’ desperate need to improve an inadequate roster — can come off as cold to a franchise legend like Thompson, who won four titles in his 13 seasons with the Warriors but is being bumped far down the current offseason priority list.

Part of the Warriors’ calculus, it seems, is that Thompson could discover a lukewarm free-agent market and eventually return at a bargain rate. Controlling owner Joe Lacob, second-year general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. and vice president Kirk Lacob are pulling the levers. Early indications are that that read of the market will be proven correct. Word is there are mostly shorter-term contracts out there for veteran free agents, partly why Malik Monk returned to Sacramento on a four-year deal at only $78 million.

There has been no traction between Thompson and the Orlando Magic, according to league sources, despite some initial mutual interest. There is expected to be interest from other cap space teams and some longer-term offers on the table in a market that can always move in unpredictable directions. It’s always possible Thompson’s best offers may end up smaller in money and shorter in years than many predicted or expected, leading some to presume that’ll lead back to an inevitable reunion with the Warriors at a rate both sides are comfortable.

But that’s not necessarily the case. Even if the Warriors eventually approach Thompson with a competitive offer, matching or exceeding the money and years, it has become increasingly conceivable, according to league sources, that Thompson will decide to leave regardless, searching for a fresh start in a different environment, detached from some of the built-up friction of the previous couple seasons.

Before last season, the Warriors and Thompson discussed the idea of an extension. Our Shams Charania reported talks were in the two-year, $48 million range. Nothing was ever close.

Some other quick buzz: Kevon Looney, drafted in 2015, has been a member of the Warriors for nearly nine years. It appears that his tenure will continue into next week. Only $3 million of Looney’s $8 million is currently guaranteed for next season. The other $5 million guarantees on Monday, presenting the possibility he could be released.

But that isn’t the Warriors’ current plan, according to league sources. They are expected to let the rest of Looney’s $8 million contract guarantee, keeping him in their current plans, though it does remain possible they eventually use his salary to help complete an offseason trade.

Looney still has value as a leader in the locker room and remains one of Steve Kerr’s favorite players, a voice he relies on during tense times but also a center he trusts on the floor. Looney was edged out of the rotation midseason by rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis — and would presumably enter next season behind Jackson-Davis on the depth chart — but Looney moved his way back into the rotation in April and appeared in their Play-In Tournament loss in Sacramento, guarding Domantas Sabonis for key stretches.

If the Warriors did release Looney and replace him with a minimum veteran center, they wouldn’t save much salary or tax regardless. There has been no talk of a release-and-re-sign of Looney, either, because he’d be expected to have interest on the open market from several rivals and would explore those options. As of now, Looney remains in the Warriors’ plan as he nears the decade mark with the franchise.

Required reading

(Photo of Thompson: Alex Goodlett / Getty Images)