Warriors Rumors: Golden State Told to Prioritize Klay Thompson over Kevin Durant

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2019

Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson reacts after making a 3-point basket against the Houston Rockets during the second half in Game 2 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, April 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said on Monday's episode of First Take that "some of the elite in the game" have told the Golden State Warriors to prioritize Klay Thompson over Kevin Durant in free agency:

We all know that KD is All-World, but Golden State is not really prioritizing him: A, because KD's his own man, he's going to make whatever decision he's going to make. And they believe whether he elects to stay or go, what else can they do for him? They've got a first-class organization. They're moving into a state-of-the-art new facility.

They know that he commands the max, so they'd give it to him, etc. He's going to make the decision. But I also have been told that they have been advised, strongly I might add, by some of the elite in the game, Hall of Famers as executives and players: Prioritize Klay Thompson. In other words, offer Klay Thompson every penny that you can. If you short-change him in any way in free agency, he will consider departing. Probably for the Clippers more so than anybody else.

We need to keep our eyes on that, even though I'm told by Golden State there's no way in hell they're going to do that. They're going to keep the Splash Brothers together.

The logic here is sound. Durant is the wild card of free agency. He could continue to rack up championships with Golden State or carve his own path reviving the New York Knicks, and Durant is going to make that decision regardless of what the Warriors say in a pitch meeting.

Thompson, meanwhile, is the far surer thing. It's expected he would re-sign with the Warriors if they presented him with a maximum contract, something they should leap to do July 1.

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"If they come with a five-year, $190 million max deal for Klay Thompson, that's done on July 1—he's going into the new building with Steph Curry," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said Monday on Get Up! "If they try to do anything less than that, you can expect Klay Thompson to be out in free agency. Watch not for the Lakers then, but the Clippers."

The overwhelming likelihood is that Thompson will remain a Warrior. He wants to be there; the Warriors want him there. The only thing that could prevent him from signing a long-term contract is money, which comes down to an issue of respect for players.

Dwyane Wade left the Miami Heat in 2016 because he felt disrespected by their monetary offer, not because he wanted to depart the organization. Thompson is in a position where he and Curry could go down as the most decorated backcourt in league history; they're already the greatest shooting duo the game has ever seen.

The Warriors ownership group has billions of dollars and will open the Chase Center next season, a state-of-the-art arena that will bring a new revenue stream to the organization.

Golden State's priority will be retaining both Durant and Thompson. But the first priority should be inking the $190 million deal Thompson is due to avoid a disaster where the team loses both.