If the Golden State Warriors prove forever unwilling to include Klay Thompson in its trade package to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love, they’ll surely do most everything possible to ensure he’s in the Bay for the long-haul. Undoubtedly using that assumption as leverage in contract discussions as well as the recently exploded market value for young, quality wings, Thompson and agent Bill Duffy are reportedly seeking a max-level extension from the Warriors before 2014-2015.
Meanwhile, Thompson’s agent, Bill Duffy, has been seeking a max deal in extension talks with the Warriors as well. And while Golden State would surely prefer that the stance eventually softens and leads to a more palatable deal, the fact that he is younger means a max for Thompson would start at $15.7 million and still allow for more flexibility in the Warriors future than a Love deal.
If Thompson and the Warriors don’t reach an extension agreement by a late October deadline, he’ll be a restricted free agent next summer. Even before Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons were awarded contracts this summer, it was assumed by league observers that Thompson would demand such a price. The rare high-frequency, dead-eye shooter that doubles a plus defender, the 24 year-old’s legitimate two-way impact makes him an especially valuable commodity in the modern NBA. And though Thompson will always be stretched thin as an offensive creator and can struggle with off-ball defense, it’s unlikely he’s reached his ceiling as a player, too.
Demanding and commanding a salary that seems a bit too rich are different things, however, and it was hardly concrete that Thompson would pocket a max contract a month ago. But in doling out maximum money to Hayward and Parsons, the Charlotte Hornets/Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks left no about Thompson’s worth. He’ll be receiving the contract he wants at some point in the next year; the question now becomes whether or not Golden State will be the team to give it to him.
Though the Warriors obviously hold Thompson in high esteem, there’s still no rush to extend his contract before the coming season. Players simply aren’t lost in restricted free agency. Despite a rising cap number for 2015-2016 that would modestly boost his max salary, Golden State would be best served letting next summer’s free agent market set the price for Thompson as opposed to superficially deciding it themselves over the next couple of months. If he gets a max contract offer and the Warriors are intent on keeping him, match it. If Thompson struggles this season and receives an offer sheet from another team below the number he currently wants, all the better for Golden State.
The ongoing sweepstakes for Love can’t be dismissed here, either. With the Cleveland Cavaliers ramping up their efforts to land him by reportedly including prized rookie Andrew Wiggins in trade talks with Minny, the Warriors might need to act quickly if their refusal to part with Thompson is a bluff. A small amount of white smoke emitted from twitter in recent days that Golden State had finally softened its stance with regard to Thompson, but reputable sources immediately refuted those rumors. Having said that, the Wiggins reports, though far more widespread, are hardly infallible.
Andrew Wiggins has not been offered for Kevin Love. Klay Thompson has not been offered for Kevin Love. This is where things stand.
— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) July 18, 2014
Maybe the Love factor doesn’t concern the Warriors at all with respect to Thompson. There’s certainly a chance their staunch rejection of the ‘Wolves insistence to make him available in Love talks is real. And if that’s the case, Golden State will have to pay Thompson the money he seeks eventually. But there’s just no need for the Warriors to be in a hurry to do so now.
Is Thompson worth the max?
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