Hopes of an early Christmas for Golden State Warriors fans were dashed today as the NBA’s foremast expert, “Sources,” revealed that Klay Thompson would not return to the court until at least December 28th.
The Warriors do not plan for Klay Thompson to debut on either Dec. 20 or Dec. 23 home games, sources tell me and @anthonyVslater. Thompson won't come back on Christmas. So earliest possible return would be Dec. 28 -- with Thompson ramping up conditioning over next couple weeks.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 16, 2021
There’s still no reports of a re-injury for Thompson, who is returning from both a torn Achilles tendon and a torn ACL. Officially, the team still says it’s a matter of conditioning only that’s keeping Klay off the court, but you have to think the team’s 23-5 record removes a lot of the urgency to bring their missing Splash Brother back. And since Thompson was always among the league leaders in miles run on the court, both offensively and defensively, it stands to reason that he wants to be in tip-top aerobic shape before his triumphant return. Let’s hope Rocco picks up the pace during their walks.
December 28th is the earliest date Klay could come back, according to this new information, the front half of a home-and-home series against the Denver Nuggets. But there’s reason to believe it might be later. From what we’ve seen from Thompson’s competitive nature, you’d have to think he wanted to come back for the Christmas Day game against the Suns in Phoenix. But Joe Lacob has repeatedly said that Klay’s return game would be at the Chase Center, so he’d have to have been ready to go December 23rd. If he’s missing that benchmark, then it may be more realistic to circle the January 3rd game against the Miami Heat as Klay Day, rather than hoping five extra days is enough for his conditioning boost. Is it plausible he’d spend Christmas Day running sprints and shooting jumpers? Of course. This is Klay Thompson, a man who used to shoot jumpers with an imaginary ball when he went to the club.
Golden State’s upcoming schedule doesn’t allow him to get in a groove at home after Christmas. After December 23, they’ll play at the Chase Center just four times in four weeks, and won’t have consecutive home games until January 18-20. The 12/28 game is followed by two games at altitude in Denver and Salt Lake City. Given that playing a mile high usually leaves the visiting team out of breath anyway, if Klay isn’t at his top form, they might as well wait a week. Then he can get a huge ovation January 3rd, play one of the games versus Dallas or New Orleans on the quick road trip, and then haunt Cavaliers fans when he nails double-digit threes against Cleveland in his second home game back.
There’s also a big chance the Warriors’ other future Hall of Famers will miss a game soon. Kuminga Heads, get excited!
Draymond Green hinted at an expected rest night in Toronto on Saturday for the veterans. Steve Kerr said no official decision has been made, but seems like Warriors are leaning toward sitting Curry/Draymond/maybe others against Raptors.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 16, 2021
Both Draymond and Steph have sat out only one game so far this season, the Warriors’ narrow victory in Detroit. The NBA generally discourages team from resting their stars on the road, but given how the NBA has treated Toronto in the past year and a half, they probably won’t object. This means a likely opportunity for rookie Jonathan Kuminga, some big minutes for the reserve guards to secure rotation spots in advance of Klay’s return, and another career game for Andrew Wiggins, who kills the Toronto Raptors more than any other team, besides the Minnesota Timberwolves. Clearly, Maple Jordan draws strength from being around all-dressed chips and the metric system.
So while this is a setback, and a disappointment for anyone who paid top dollar for tickets to see the Memphis Grizzlies or, God help you, the Sacramento Kings next week, ultimately Klay taking his time is a tribute to how well the team has been rolling along in his absence. And there would be something very appropriate to Thompson achieving peak conditioning against the most intensely cardio-oriented team in the NBA, the Miami Heat. Plus, he can motivate everyone by shouting “They didn’t want you, Bjelica! They didn’t want you, Andre!” to his Heat alumni teammates.