NBA Rumors: Latest on Klay Thompson's Return, Marc Gasol's Lakers Future, More

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIAugust 21, 2021

NBA Rumors: Latest on Klay Thompson's Return, Marc Gasol's Lakers Future, More

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    The 2021-22 NBA season will be tipping off 59 days from now. It may sound like a lot of time, but there's been plenty of news around the league to help fans stay engaged throughout the offseason. That's likely to continue, while training camp and the preseason will give us a taste of what to expect over the coming year.

    But there's no doubt that every basketball fan is going to keep looking forward to Oct. 19, when there will be a pair of games taking place to open the new season. It will be exciting to see how teams perform after the many changes that were made to rosters this offseason, some of them being huge moves that impacted the landscape of the league.

    While the NBA still has a while before returning, here's some of the latest buzz from around the league in the meantime.

Thompson Potentially Returning on Christmas Day?

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    The NBA always delivers an entertaining slate of matchups on Christmas Day, and this year will be no different. There will be five games taking place, including a meeting between the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns. That should be a thrilling contest with Stephen Curry taking on the reigning Western Conference champions.

    However, there may be another big reason to watch that game: it could mark the return of Klay Thompson.

    Thompson hasn't played in an NBA game since June 13, 2019, when he tore his left ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Then, as he was preparing for the 2020-21 season, he tore his right Achilles tendon. But the 31-year-old shooting guard will be back in action soon, as ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported on The Jump on Friday that the Warriors are targeting at least Christmas to have Thompson back in the lineup.

    "He's doing well in his rehab, but he's missed two seasons in a row now," Shelburne said on the show (h/t Ali Thanawalla of NBC Sports Bay Area). "So you don't bring him back [early]. This is a conservative target. If he does well and his conditioning is up, and he feels like he wants to come back earlier, he will."

    Golden State has missed the playoffs each of the two seasons that Thompson has been out. So it will surely be glad to have him back with Curry in the backcourt trying to lead the team back to success.

Gasol 'Not a Lock' to Return to Lakers for Upcoming Season

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Marc Gasol played his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020-21, and the 36-year-old center has another year remaining on his contract. That would seem to indicate he'll be back with the team next season. However, that may not actually be the case.

    According to NBA reporter Marc Stein, Gasol is "not a lock to return to the Lakers" for the 2021-22 campaign. That report comes after Gasol played for Spain at the Tokyo Olympics and indicated that he would be back in Los Angeles for the second and final year of his deal. But the plan could be changing.

    "It’s not yet clear if that means Gasol is poised to be set free to play elsewhere in the NBA or if he would ultimately opt to finish his career in his home country like brother Pau," Stein wrote.

    Wherever Gasol goes (or if he stays in Los Angeles), it's clear that he's getting closer to the end of his basketball career. A 13-year NBA veteran, Gasol averaged career lows in points (5.0) and rebounds (4.1) in 52 games for the Lakers last season.

Two Teams Reportedly Showing Interest in Millsap

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Most of the top free agents have signed deals with teams by this point in the offseason. But there are still some quality players on the market, including several who should make an impact during the 2021-22 season.

    Among the players still unsigned is Paul Millsap, a 15-year NBA veteran and four-time All-Star who spent the past four seasons with the Denver Nuggets. Before that, he played seven seasons with the Utah Jazz and four with the Atlanta Hawks. But the 36-year-old forward could be with a new team this upcoming season.

    Mike Singer of the Denver Post recently reported that the Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets are interested in potentially signing Millsap. Both of those teams have strong cores, and Millsap would be a solid addition who could help either make a possible run deep through the playoffs.

    Last season, Millsap averaged 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds in 56 games while shooting 47.6 percent from the field. So while he may no longer be in his prime, he can still contribute to a strong team and provide depth in the frontcourt.