It’s becoming increasingly unlikely that Klay Thompson signs an extension with the Golden State Warriors this fall.
Reporting on @RunItBackFDTV: There's a significant gap in extension negotiations for Golden State and Klay Thompson, league sources say, as current signs point to the four-time champion going into 2024 free agency. pic.twitter.com/0U0wSXo0hR— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 23, 2023
Rumor kingpin Shams Charania reported on his FanDuelTV show that the negotiations between Thompson and the Warriors are “at a dead point,” a phrase that does not mean what Charania thinks it does. Regardless, it appears that extension talks have stalled or perhaps reached an end point, because Thompson wants more money and years than the Warriors are currently offering.
That doesn’t mean Thompson is leaving. Last year, the Warriors didn’t give Draymond Green an extension ahead of the final year of his contract. While he technically tested free agency, the Warriors weren’t in serious danger of losing Green, and he came back on a four-year deal at a slight pay cut.
What complicates the Thompson negotiations is the uncertainty regarding the salary cap. Because of the new NBA collective bargaining agreement and its increased penalties for high-spending teams, the Warriors have a certain salary range where they can pay Thompson while staying under the “second apron,” which is set at $17.5 million above the luxury tax threshold.
The team won’t know exactly what their flexibility is until they know what the salary cap is. While it went up the maximum 10% this season, the league is currently projecting only a 4.4% rise to $142 million, while the maximum rise would take it to nearly $150 million. That’s a big difference in terms of how much the Warriors could pay Thompson in the first year of a new deal, witohut incurring penalties like lost draft picks and restricitons on signings, trades, and sign-and-trades.
Does this mean Thompson and the Warriors are through? Not necessarily. Waiting until the offseason to make a deal is riskier, but it makes sense for both parties. Thompson is reportedly fitter than last fall, when he didn’t play basketball all summer, and could greatly increase his value with a big year. The Warriors can also make a clearer financial decision next summer, when they’ll know exactly how much they can offer Thompson without going over the apron, without either side having to speculate.
When Anthony Slater asked Klay about his unsettled contract two weeks ago, Thompson said, “It’s not going to be a thing.” He also made it clear that his preference is to stay with the franchise.
“I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else,” Thompson said. “To play for one franchise, man? That’s so rare. In any sport. Football. Baseball. Basketball. Australian Rules Football. To play for one club is insane. It’s some real legendary stuff.”
Most negotiations don’t get done until there’s the pressure of a deadline anyway - note the slew of rookie extensions announced today, the final day they’re permitted. Especially after trading Jordan Poole to the Washington Wizards to free up long-term money, the odds are still in favor of Thompson staying with the Warriors. But you never know what the future holds in basketball. Or Aussie Rules Football.