Klay Thompson exit interview: With free agency looming, what's next for Warriors legend

SAN FRANCISCO — Klay Thompson retired from Golden 1 quickly Tuesday night in Sacramento, the wounds of another shutout loss too fresh to talk to reporters. He missed all 10 of his shots and didn't score a point, something he later called “big old pie,” with his impending free agency looming over his and the entire Golden State Warriors organization's heads.

That's what made Thompson the star attraction in the exit interviews Wednesday afternoon. He was the last player to speak and everyone heard the voice. At about 3 p.m. PT — after his meeting with Mike Dunleavy and Steve Kerr — Thompson entered the room with a fat lip. It came from an elbow during a Sacramento Kings game and added to the mood.

Thompson was filled with the free agency question right away.

“Don't we want to talk about the season first?” He shot back. “You want to talk about the future? There were a lot of matches, man. That was a pretty big accomplishment. What's wrong with you guys not wanting to live in the present, bro? It's ridiculous.” Anyway, what's your question?”

Thompson was reminded why his future is such a relevant topic. He is a franchise legend and a local icon, having played 13 seasons and winning four titles for the franchise. Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Steve Kerr are all already under contract for at least two more seasons. Thompson's contract is about to expire. Extension talks went nowhere. It's a very sobering outcome to think he'll leave Golden State this summer, marking the end of an era.

“You know, I didn't think much about it because of what you just said about the season,” Thompson said. “I didn't really think about the future because I still needed to process the year we had. It was a game full of ups and downs, but in the end, we, myself personally and our team did everything we could to try to win as many games as possible.

The early exit provides an additional buffer before free agency, but the league is moving quickly. Thompson's conversation with Kerr and Dunleavy on Wednesday was the first of what will surely be many important back-and-forth conversations between Thompson, Kerr, Dunleavy, Curry, Green, Joe Lacob and Kirk Lacob in the coming weeks.

“Great, considering it's April 17, I don't think I have to change course so quickly,” Thompson said. “When is free agency? July 1? Yeah, I've got some time. I've got some time.”

Most agents, front office staff and insiders know that free agency doesn't actually start on July 1. It basically ends. All the big decisions happen behind the scenes in the lead up to the event. So, this massive pick by Thompson and the Warriors is coming at a faster pace than the outside world might think. But nothing is close to being decided at this stage. The league often reacts and changes depending on what happens in the playoffs, which begin this weekend.

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What are Thompson's priorities?

“Obviously you want to keep winning,” he said. “I mean, when you're part of winning seasons, you don't really want to walk away from that. So I'd love to win again. It would be nice (a championship ring) for the thumb. I still think it's within reach. It's going to take a lot of effort. But other than that, You just have to think about it, what will make you truly happy in the last few years of your career.

Kerr, Curry and Green all made a point of telling reporters late Tuesday night that they want Thompson back and believe he will do so. Green said he felt the organization would pay what it took because they always do, specifically pointing to giving Thompson a max deal in the summer of 2019 after he tore his ACL in the final game of the NBA Finals.

“Oh man,” Thompson said. “Well, 2019, can you imagine if they hadn't paid me after I got injured? That would have been really bad. Like, 'Oh, you went to five finals in a row, you broke your kneecap, yeah, sorry.' So, no, I mean that It was very nice of them every year and I do my best and the ownership group has been great I have nothing but positive things to say about them they treat us with great respect and do all the little things to do our job at the highest level “That. I mean, it's up to them, but at the end of the day, whatever happens, it's gravy. It's been a weird private tour.”

Here's a video of most of these answers. His body language always says it all.

Here are some other relevant notes from exit interviews.

Kuminga is eligible for an extension this summer. He signed a $7.6 million contract next season regardless, but the Warriors could avoid restricted free agency next summer if they agree to a deal. These conversations don't usually heat up until October.

“Oh, wow, I never thought of that,” Kuminga said. “This is just something I think my agent will work on. Now I will just focus on my mind and body and everything will take care of itself.

As for his future with the Warriors, Kuminga said, “I love it here.”

Kuminga was asked about his biggest area of ​​growth this season, and he said communication, an apparent reference to the difficult moments he had dealing with limited playing time before finally having a difficult conversation with Kerr.

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“Sometimes people don't know you if you don't talk,” Kuminga said. “Sometimes, people don't know what's on your mind if you can't actually see it. I don't know what's on coaches' minds if I can't ask them questions, and questions are communication. It's the same way you ask me questions about everything.” Or about basketball or about my life. You all wouldn't know if I didn't communicate with you guys. I think that's the biggest thing. That's pretty much what I had to do and learn and find a way to communicate with my teammates and my coaches.

Wiggins is 29 years old, but he just finished the worst offensive season of his career. The former 23-point-per-game scorer is averaging 13.2 points this season, more than 3 points below his previous career low. His worst field goal percentage (45.3 percent) came in five seasons and his 3-point percentage (35.8 percent) came in four seasons.

“My season wasn’t very good,” Wiggins said. “Not great. I feel like I started to pick it up in the second half of the season. But the first half wasn't very good. Team-wise, I feel like we were really good in the second half of the season. We were figuring things out. But it's unfortunate that it had to end.” this way”.

Wiggins has three years and $84.5 million remaining on his contract. He's a trade candidate this summer. The Warriors explored trades involving Wiggins before the February deadline.

“I take care of what I can take care of,” Wiggins said. “What is beyond my control, I don’t worry about it. All I can do is work hard, train hard and do what I can do.”

The Warriors rookie plans to play in the NBA Summer League, believing that a higher usage of the ball role will make him better prepared for next season.

“It is natural that my role will increase,” Podzemski said. “I think the ball will be in my hands a little bit more and I'll be more efficient, and I'm trying to take the burden off Steph and Draymond's shoulders. How the rest of our guys can influence things. I think a lot of times when we got into really important games or really needed to win, we would put it off for Steve.

Trace Jackson Davis

Jackson-Davis also said he will compete in at least part of the Summer League and mentioned several areas he would like to improve.

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“When we actually talked, the coach mentioned (Domantas) Sabonis’ name (as a comparison),” Jackson-Davis said. “I think the intensity he plays with off the dribble, things like that. He might try 3s a game, but that's not necessarily who he is as a player. It's definitely something I want to expand on. The free throws, in practice and knocking them down, I have to translate that back. I think the free throws and then being able to catch and shoot the 3.

Jackson Davis also mentioned the defensive end of the floor and the need to expand his versatility.

Gary Payton II

Payton has appeared in just 44 of 82 games this season, dealing with a variety of ailments that have kept him out in key moments, including being deactivated for the Kings' playoff game on Tuesday night due to another calf strain of the season.

“It was frustrating sitting there and watching, not being able to do anything,” Payton said. “But it gave me motivation, pushed me to take better care of my body this summer and just come back and get ready to be 82 next summer.”

Payton has one season remaining on his deal, a $9.1 million player option he is expected to exercise or cash in on to get a long-term deal with perhaps a lower annual value.

“I would love to come back and replay it,” Payton said. “Better yet, just return my entire deal and stay here a little longer. We'll figure something out.”

Looney is due $8 million next season, but only $3 million of that is guaranteed, leaving him vulnerable to a salary cut that would send him to free agency and end his nine-year tenure with the Warriors.

“I'm not always in control of my future here,” Looney said. “I would love to come back, be part of this team, part of this organization. That's all I know. But this is the NBA. When you don't make the playoffs, you lose, and usually things happen. So I don't know what's going to happen,” he said. But I have to be ready for the next step.

(Top image: Tyler Ross/NBAE via Getty Images)

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