The Golden State Warriors announced Sunday that they've assigned Klay Thompson to the Santa Cruz Warriors, their NBA G League affiliate:
The step is part of Thompson's continued recovery from a torn ACL and torn Achilles that have kept him off an NBA court since the 2019 NBA Finals.
The Athletic's Shams Charania and Anthony Slater reported Nov. 21 that Thompson had been cleared to participate fully in Warriors practices and that he might be all the way back in mid-to-late December.
The five-time All-Star has already lost two full seasons of his career and a portion of a third. While his lengthy rehabilitation appears to be nearing an end, he cut a striking figure on the bench following Golden State's 1118-103 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday:
Stephen Curry expressed how he "kind of predicted this would be the hardest part on his journey," per The Athletic's Marcus Thompson II.
"Because he’s got the basketball back in his hands every day, he's feeling like himself, he's playing pickup, he's around our practices, he's back with us in those type of situations. but he's still not on the court," Curry said.
Without Thompson, the Warriors won 39 games and failed to advance out of the play-in tournament in 2020-21. This season, however, they own the NBA's best record (17-2). Curry is once again performing like an MVP, and the team is getting steady contributions from the supporting cast.
In theory, adding Thompson should make Golden State even more potent. He's averaging 19.5 points for his career and sits 13th in all-time three-point percentage (41.9 percent).
But Gordon Hayward's rocky inclusion into the Boston Celtics rotation after his ankle injury illustrates how that process may not be as straightforward as one would think.
In June 2019, ESPN's Jackie MacMullan reported on Arbella Early Edition how the Celtics "were force-feeding [Hayward] on his teammates" which frustrated other members of the Celtics.
Granted, Thompson has built much more equity within the Warriors than Hayward had in Boston—he was injured on the night of his debut with the team in October 2017.
Nevertheless, working Thompson into the full flow of the offense when he's back to playing again could take some time for head coach Steve Kerr.