After Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson left Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals on Thursday with a torn ACL, a number of things went through his mind.
For starters, his focus was on playing in a potential Game 7 on Sunday.
“I was back there when they told him he was out the rest of Thursday,” Warriors vice president of communications Raymond Ridder told ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne. “And all he said was, ‘Do you think I can play Sunday?'”
That mentality should come as no surprise, given the events of Game 6. While Thompson started to make his way to the locker room following the injury, he returned to the court to shoot a pair of free throws so he would be able to return to the game if medically cleared.
House of Highlights @HoHighlights
Klay injured his leg and while being carried off, he was told if he doesn’t shoot the FT’s he will not be able to return. Klay then turned around and went back to shoot. He left the game after the FT’s and was put on crutches. 🙏🙌 https://t.co/MMe9NZuZDq
As he exited after knocking down both free throws, Thompson told coach Steve Kerr, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Ballard, “Just a two-minute rest, I’ll be ready.”
That’s the type of toughness that led Golden State star Draymond Green to call Thompson “a warrior:”
95.7 The Game @957thegame
Draymond on Klay: “He’s a Warrior” https://t.co/7QKWaP7B9F
After the injury, Thompson received a video call from someone in a similar situation: teammate Kevin Durant. The two-time Finals MVP left Game 5 in the second quarter after rupturing his Achilles tendon.
“They were encouraging each other to come back strong,” Klay’s father, Mychal Thompson, said, per Shelburne. “They got unfinished business.”
A few hours prior, Thompson had shown some love to Durant-who was one day removed from surgery-on social media. He wrote on Instagram:
“But DubNation, I need you to reflect on the fact that we would not be in this position if it weren’t for this man and his sacrifices. He’s the reason there are banners hanging in the rafters of Oracle. I’m gonna need every Dubs fan in the building tonight to bring the same fire K brought everyday to the court … !! It’s not gonna be the same running out that tunnel without u bro. We all know this is a minor set back for a major comeback !! Nothing can impede this mans greatness.”
There aren’t many people who could relate to what Thompson was going through. Durant, however, was one of them. While neither was able to prevent a season-ending 114-110 loss, they at least had each other to turn to.
Thompson’s impending free agency came up only after Game 6 ended.
“Do you think this could affect my free agency?” Thompson asked, per Shelburne.
Thompson, like Durant (who holds a player option for 2019-20), has the ability to test his market this summer. The good news for Thompson is that the injury won’t affect the five-time All-Star’s stock, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
Get Up @GetUpESPN
“Even if they resign Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to long term contracts, this is a roster that will be fighting to just make the Western Conference playoffs.” -@wojespn https://t.co/uZzmJDFEl2
Thompson had told the Mercury News‘ Mark Medina in August he “would like to be a Warrior for life.” And it’s worth noting Golden State can offer him more money than any other team.
While being snubbed from the All-NBA squads prevented him from being eligible for a five-year, $221 million supermax extension, the 29-year-old guard is still eligible for a five-year, $191 million deal. As Warriors owner Joe Lacob told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami early this year, the team has the money to “pay our players what they deserve.”
In the wake of Thompson’s knee injury, Lacob told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes he wanted the star to be a “Warrior for life” and that his torn ACL did not change that.
Mychal Thompson told Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday that there’s “no question” his son will re-sign with Golden State this summer. Letourneau added the Warriors are expected to offer Thompson a maximum contract.