Given the uncertain future for the Golden State Warriors with several of their core players over the age of 30, Klay Thompson may not finish his career with the organization that drafted him.
One executive for a Western Conference team told Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports (h/t Heavy.com's Jack Simone) that Thompson "could consider" leaving the Warriors at the end of his current contract.
The executive listed the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers as potential landing spots if Thompson does decide to test free agency:
"You know, he grew up with his dad as a player, mostly for the Lakers, so they're a team he could look to leave for. And he grew up near Portland, so the Blazers, there has been talk he wants to play for them. But really, he is kind of engrained in the Warriors now. He is such a part of that team and the culture, everything he went through with the injuries, and just his whole laid-back attitude and approach. They love him. It would be hard to imagine him actually suiting up in another uniform."
Thompson is under contract with the Warriors through the 2023-24 season. Their attempts to simultaneously maintain a championship core and develop young players hasn't gone as the organization hoped.
Golden State was able to win an NBA title last season, though that was mostly due to the superstar veterans who have been part of this team for a decade. Thompson, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins were the best players during the playoff run.
Wiggins is the only player in that group who was under the age of 31 last season.
Jordan Poole did have a breakout 2021-22 season and earned a four-year, $123 million extension in October. However, he's struggling so far this season with a 31.7 three-point percentage.
Curry is currently out of action with a shoulder injury that will keep him out for at least two more weeks.
Golden State currently has a bottom-10 defense in points allowed per game (117.6) and defensive rating (114.3). Its 16-18 record ranks 10th in the Western Conference.
James Wiseman, the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, was sent to the G League early this season because of his ongoing struggles. The 21-year-old was recalled on Dec. 6 and had a 30-point game on Dec. 21 against the Brooklyn Nets, albeit in a game Golden State lost 143-113.
Between player payroll and luxury-tax payments, the Warriors are spending $346.2 million this season.
ESPN's Bobby Marks noted in October they are already locked into $483 million in spending next season with payroll and the repeater tax, assuming Green opts in to the final year of his deal. That figure is with only 12 players under contract, so it could climb over $500 million in 2023-24.
If the Warriors continue to struggle this season, governor Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers may not be eager to spend that much money on a roster of aging players past their absolute peak.
Thompson still isn't shooting at the level he was before injuries cost him two full seasons. He is making a respectable 37.3 percent from three-point range on a career-high 9.7 attempts per game in 27 starts.
If Thompson hits the open market in summer 2024 at the age of 34, he will certainly have plenty of suitors because he will always be able to make threes at a solid rate.
The Lakers are a team that loves marquee names, but what's their roster going to look like in two years? LeBron James will be closing in on 40 years old and can opt out of his deal after the 2023-24 season. Anthony Davis' deal with L.A. includes an early-termination option for 2025, so he could also leave the Lakers.
The Blazers could be an appealing destination for Thompson in two years. They have Damian Lillard, who will turn 34 in July 2024, under contract through at least the 2024-25 season. Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe are two excellent young building blocks for the franchise.