No sign of Klay's ‘Warrior for life' vibe in end-of-season presser

No sign of Klay’s ‘Warrior for life’ vibe in end-of-season presser originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – With his future hazy and subjected to educated guesses and rampant speculation, Klay Thompson spent almost 17 minutes Wednesday steering discussion into his comfort zone.

Specifically, memories of his 13 years as a member of the Warriors.

Thompson, who will be an unrestricted free agent in July, used words and body language to convey that his feelings about Golden State are not as warm as they were not so long ago.

Thompson in July 2019 after tearing the ACL in his left knee and one month later signing a five-year max contract worth $190 million: “Who pays a guy after he injures his ACL? But they had faith in me.”

Thompson painted in darker colors when that deal was revisited on Wednesday: “Oh, man. Well, 2019, well could you imagine if they didn’t pay me after I got hurt? That would have been really bad. Like, oh, we went to five straight Finals, you blew your knee out. Yeah, sorry. So, no, I mean, that was very nice of them.”

It was only a few weeks ago that Thompson, in an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, said he “would love to be a Warrior for life.” This was only mildly surprising because he has spent his NBA career sharing the backcourt with superstar Stephen Curry, has been teammates with Draymond Green since 2012.

It is now apparent that Thompson, 34, is not determined to remain with the Warriors. Not that he isn’t willing to re-sign, but there was no “I want to be a Warrior for life” energy rolling off his tongue or printed in the thought bubbles above his head.

There was, however, plenty of nostalgia when discussing his past with the only NBA franchise from which he has earned a paycheck. He was relishing the

Asked about his comfort with Curry and Green, as well as his long association with coach Steve Kerr and his overall contentment with the franchise, Klay took a wistful detour into sweeping remembrance.

“I played for Mark Jackson, too,” Thompson said, referring to the coach when he was drafted in 2011. “Yeah, I love everyone here. From the security who does the floor at the games, to security from the Oracle days; still friends with them. To the community of Oakland. I mean, yeah, I grew up in the Bay Area, really. I’ve been here since I was 21. I just always have loved it.”

Thompson mentioned his connection with Eric Housen, a 37-year Warriors employee who has risen from ball boy to vice president of team operations. Klay glanced toward Raymond Ridder, a 26-year employee serving as the vice president of communications. Another association that has grown over the years.

All of this occurred roughly 17 hours after Golden State’s season came to a hard stop Tuesday night in a 118-94 loss to the Kings in Sacramento. Thompson had a profoundly fruitless game, being relentlessly exploited on defense and missing all 10 of his shots.

“A big old donut,” he said of his scoreless 32 minutes in Sacramento.

This is not the way anyone would like to go out, certainly not someone of his exalted stature. Someone who is a five-time NBA All-Star, with four championship rings, multiple record-setting games and is one of most popular beloved players in Warriors history.

Minutes after this season ended, Curry said he wants Thompson to remain with the Warriors. Green said much the same thing. Kerr was more insistent, saying the Warriors “need Klay back.”

When I delivered those thoughts to Thompson on Wednesday, he was appreciative but not affirmatory.

“It means a lot,” Thompson said. “I mean, we’ve been through the highest of highs and lows. Whether it’s losing a championship, winning a championship, missing the playoffs, we’ve been through everything together, so that does mean a lot.

“It makes me grateful to have the times I’ve had with them. Like, that was pretty historic stuff.”

Nothing along the lines of keeping the core together. Nothing about where the Warriors stand in relation to anticipated interest around the league. And, most striking, nothing at all about what they – Curry, Green and Thompson – still can accomplish as Warriors.

There was, however, something that Thompson said he still hopes to achieve in the final NBA seasons.

“Obviously, you want to keep winning,” he said. “When you’ve been a part of winning seasons, you don’t really want to go away from that. So, I would like to win again. One for the thumb would be nice. I still think it’s in reach. It’s just going to, yeah, take a huge effort.

“But other than that, just got to think about that, what will really make you happy in the last few years of your career.”

Thompson is doing plenty of thinking in that regard. He’s keeping those thoughts to himself. But if you listen closely to his words, you might be able hear them.

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