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Report: Steve Kerr says a Klay Thompson return for this season ‘unlikely’

The Warriors’ star shooting guard may have to wait till the 2020-21 season for his comeback

2019 NBA Finals - Game Four Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

This bit of news isn’t going to be good for the Warriors’ chances this year, but it could be the best outcome for the long term.

According to a report written by NBC Sports Bay Area’s Logan Murdock, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr doused any hopes of Klay Thompson — who is currently undergoing rehabilitation for his torn left ACL that he suffered during last season’s NBA Finals — returning in time for a possible late season playoff push.

“Generally, an ACL for a basketball player is a full-year recovery, and if it’s a full year for Klay, that puts him out for the season,” Kerr said in an upcoming on-air interview. “We’ve kind of left the door open in case the rehab goes perfectly and the doctors say he can go. But the reality is on April 1st — that’s the nine-month mark, he got his surgery on July 1st — April 1st is nine months post-op for an ACL. It’s unlikely that he’s gonna play this year.”

There is precedent to Kerr’s assessment that an ACL injury takes almost an entire year to fully recover from, as is stated in the report:

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine sat out 11 months with a similar injury, and Atlanta Hawks forward Jabari Parker missed nearly a year. Kerr, who tore his ACL in college, believes Thompson will be on the same timeline as those players.”

For additional perspective, perhaps the most infamous victim of an ACL tear — former MVP Derrick Rose — sat out an entire season after suffering the injury in Game 1 of the first round of the 2012 playoffs. His surgery was performed on May 12, 2012. He was cleared for full contact practice on January of 2013, and was cleared to play on March of 2013. However, the Bulls opted to sit him out till the 2013-14 season.

If we are to predict a similar trajectory for Thompson, he will probably be cleared for practice at around March of 2020, and will probably be cleared to play at around May or June. That will be in the middle of the 2020 NBA playoffs, where it is uncertain if the Warriors will have survived up till that point.

ACL recovery periods vary from player to player, usually according to the severity of the tear. Al Jefferson’s ACL recovery took only seven months, but that is more the exception than the norm. It is safe to assume that Thompson’s recovery won’t be under nine months, but anything is possible.

This could be a blessing in disguise. Even if he were to return late this season, Thompson will be rusty and unconditioned; he will have gone one year without playing high-level competitive basketball. It might be the best course of action to ease him into next season, where he will be better prepared for the rigors of a full NBA season.

But if you were expecting him to help the Warriors this season, then prepare to be disappointed.