The rumors about Klay Thompson's free agency have been rampant for quite a while, with all eyes on the summer of 2019. The Open Floor podcast broached the topic when a listener asked how Thompson would fit with Giannis Antetokounmpo if he decided to join the Bucks.
Would the sharpshooter flourish and run the Eastern Conference? Or is he meant to live out the rest of his career with the Warriors? Ben Golliver and Andrew Sharp explore all of the possibilities.
(Listen to the latest Open Floor podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Andrew Sharp: In this hypothetical situation, I think Klay is like 20% better on offense than Khris Middleton, maybe not even that much. Actually, let's give him a solid 20. I don't know if Klay is that much of an upgrade over Middleton, though, and Klay and Giannis are not going to rule the East for years to come in my opinion.
Ben Golliver: Is it crazy to think that Klay would play for the Warriors for the minimum? I know there's all this max contract talk out there, but he wears his heart on his sleeve—that's why everyone loves Klay. But that is going to be the test of whether Joe Lacob plays himself and goes too far and pushes too hard. If you really wanted to have a strong negotiation posturing against Klay Thompson, being like, 'Look, man, we want to keep this core four together. We need some sacrifices.'
What is Klay's leverage? He obviously wants to be there, he's perfectly happy, he would play for the Warriors for the next 20 years if he was allowed. He's a perfect fit, he knows it, he doesn't take any of it for granted. He's able to work through his slumps because they're so potent offensively, he takes zero criticism nationally. He's never been criticized during their run regardless of how well he shot the ball or how poorly he shot the ball. He's got life made. Lots of organizations out there in that kind of situation would try to squeeze those guys for pennies. Do you think Golden State will? Or do you think they'll just pay them like they paid Steph?
Sharp: No, I don't think they will, and I do think that it's going to be really interesting to see how it shakes out, because I think if Golden State offered Klay the full max he might turn around and say, 'You know what? I'll take a $20 million discount.' Not $20 million annually, but take $20 million off the top.
Golliver: He's playing for $10 and some dog biscuits for Rocco [laughs].
Sharp: Here's the thing: we might find out exactly just how chill Klay is, because he certainly does seem pretty laid back and cool or whatever. It's the difference between $130 and $150 million. He'll be fine regardless, but I think it's sort of a pride issue, where if they do try to lowball him then he will start to look around and he should because he's been integral to everything they've done the last couple of years. He's not Steph or Draymond, but he's a Hall of Famer in his own right. I wouldn't blame him for wanting to get at least the max offer and then maybe you can talk. He and Bob Myers can hash it out.
Golliver: Do you know how strange it was to see Dwyane Wade wearing that Bulls jersey for the first time? I feel like Klay has already reached that status in my mind, where if you put him in a Lakers jersey or a Bucks jersey, wouldn't your head just explode like right off the top? He's already reached that level and he's barely 30, right?
Sharp: I'm also not sure how great he would be. I think he'd be awesome next to LeBron and Anthony Davis, he'd be awesome.
Golliver: We could talk for days about whether guys want to talk with LeBron or not. I kind of believe that there are fewer guys that want to play with him. Could you imagine Klay wanting to play with him, though?
Sharp: Not in a million years. It's shocking to me that that has been mentioned as often as it has been. I get that Mychal Thompson played for the Lakers, but come on. Are you kidding me? And by the way, this will be fun audio to splice out when Klay signs with the Lakers this summer, but I would be shocked. Anyway, stay in Golden State, Klay. Stay in the Bay.