Warriors tout Thompson's deal as smart investment
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers saw a familiar gesture when he walked through the locker room or onto the practice floor during the preseason, and it resonated with him as much as anything he heard at the negotiating table with Klay Thompson's representatives.
Players would look at Myers, rub their fingers together and say: ''Pay the man.''
The Warriors did just that Friday, signing Thompson to a four-year maximum extension worth about $70 million. The team trotted out Thompson and Myers to formally announce the deal before Saturday night's home opener against the Los Angeles Lakers, giving the shooting guard star treatment.
And that's just how the Warriors view Thompson: as a budding star.
Myers touted Thompson as a franchise pillar alongside Stephen Curry, and Thompson began to back up that claim by scoring a career-high 41 points in Golden State's 127-104 victory over the Lakers. Myers called the contract the latest commitment from ownership to build a championship contender and Thompson the kind of player who will help the Warriors reach that goal.
''I've never see a team rally around a player so much to get him paid,'' Myers said. ''It says a lot about Klay and what he means to this franchise.''
Everybody from Curry to new coach Steve Kerr congratulated Thompson on the deal and applauded Myers and team management for flexing their financial wherewithal.
There is no opt-out clause for either side in the extension, keeping Thompson under contract through the 2018-19 season - longer than any other player on the team and through the franchise's planned move to a new arena across the bay in San Francisco.
The Warriors decided to make their guard tandem cornerstones when they refused to include Thompson in trade talks with Minnesota for Kevin Love this offseason, believing he and Curry could carry them to a title on their streaky shooting strokes. Thompson began to validate the decision during the summer, dazzling during the FIBA World Cup in Spain to help the U.S. win gold.
The Warriors didn't want to risk their relationship with Thompson turning sour in restricted free agency next summer or another team putting a clause in an offer sheet that might have made it difficult to match. They're also banking on Thompson to exceed the value of his deal, especially with the league's next television contract expected to increase the salary cap - and player salaries.
Thompson, wearing a sharp gray suit and a white checkered shirt, said he wanted to be in the Bay Area long-term and that financial security was important to him. He admitted the contract ''relieves stress'' but he said he never lost sleep over whether a deal would get done by Friday's deadline.
''I knew there was going to be a lot of money on the table, but I play this game because I really do love it,'' Thompson said. ''It's a blessing to have the deal I got, and I'm going to do everything I can to go out there and prove I'm worth it.''
Thompson averaged 18.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists last season, helping the Warriors reach the playoffs for the second straight year. He has made 545 3-pointers, the most of any player in NBA history his first three seasons.
Thompson thanked Warriors co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber and members of the front office for drafting him and putting trust in him. He also thanked his family, including his father, Mychal, a former NBA player who was in the back of the room preparing to call the game on the Lakers' broadcast.
Thompson said he wasn't sure how he'd spend his newfound fortune, however, he said he loves the ocean and has always wanted to buy a boat.
''But I don't have time for a boat right now,'' he said.
That's the kind of commitment Myers said made it easier for the team to give Thompson a max contract.
Myers said he was negotiating this week with Thompson's agent, Bill Duffy, when the general manager looked out of his office window and noticed Thompson was the only player still at the practice facility taking shots after hours.
''This contract is well deserved,'' Myers said. ''And I think that's the best compliment I can give Klay.''