Klay Thompson’s willingness to consider a discount on his next contract is but the latest squint into why the Warriors are where they are, leaving the other 29 NBA teams brainstorming in despair.
It’s as simple as Thompson really, really liking where he is.
The reasons are as varied as they are legitimate, and they apply to everyone from Bob Myers and Steve Kerr to Nick Young and Omri Casspi.
It’s the culture that was created by co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, is administered by general manager Bob Myers and is splendidly implemented by coach Steve Kerr.
The culture begins with talent, because it’s innate to every thriving culture. Then there is freedom, appreciation and enthusiasm. And the trust; there has to be trust because trust equates to sincere commitment.
And if the winning is the ultimate clincher, the Bay Area/Silicon Valley geography is a fantastic bonus.
That’s how Thompson can visualize taking less than the maximum contract when he becomes a free agent in July 2019.
Asked on the Warriors Plus/Minus podcast with Marcus Thompson II and Tim Kawakami of The Athletic about the possibility of sacrificing a few million dollars in two years, Klay last Friday said he “probably could,” but maybe not as much as Durant, whose off-court earnings are larger than his salary.
“It’s a blessing whatever contract I sign,” Thompson said. “I would definitely consider it ‘cause I don’t want to lose anybody.”
It’s the culture. Every member of the Warriors realizes no other franchise in the league can offer the combination of workplace comfort, open-minded environment, genuine trust, success on the court and opportunity off it.
It explains why Kevin Durant opted out of his contract to become a free agent and then volunteered to take about $10 million less than he deserves for this season.
It explains why Shaun Livingston, who had played for eight different franchises before landing with the Warriors in 2014, never shopped the market upon becoming a free agent in July. Minutes after the window opened, he agreed to return on a three-year deal, with the third year only partially guaranteed.
“You can’t put a price on happiness,” was Livingston’s response when asked about what might be available elsewhere.
The culture also explains why Stephen Curry -- becoming a free agent in July after profoundly outperforming his previous contract -- actually approached Myers wondering if the team would benefit from him taking less than a max deal he so clearly deserved.
Myers, of course, wasn’t having it. Told Curry he was going to get the full max, no ifs, ands or buts -- even if he was willing to take less.
The Warriors culture is also why, even as he entertained other offers, Andre Iguodala never, in his heart of hearts, wanted to leave. He eventually got precisely what he wanted all along: Three more years in the Bay Area, with a contract that makes him feel appreciated.
Iguodala describes the Warriors culture as healthy, adding that they have a lot of the right people in a lot of the right places. Prior to re-signing in July, Curry spent two years telling anyone who would listen that he was right where he wanted to be. Durant describes the Warriors as “where you go when you graduate” from the remedial qualities of typical NBA teams.
Thompson told NBC Sports Bay Area last week that he believes the Warriors have a chance to join the short list of NBA teams to be associated with the term “dynasty.” That is, at the very least, a hint to his long-term personal aspirations.
The Warriors have won 207 games in the three seasons since Kerr arrived. They’ve reached the NBA Finals in all three seasons, winning twice. They’ve opened a season with 24 consecutive victories, on the way winning an NBA-record 73 games. They’ve had an MVP (Curry, twice), a Coach of the Year (Kerr), a Defensive Player of the Year (Draymond Green) and two different Finals MVPs (Iguodala, Durant).
They’ve had two champagne celebrations, followed by championship parades.
As for Thompson, he has had a charmed career, making the playoffs in five of his six NBA seasons. As the Warriors flourish, his brand thrives. He is one of four All-Stars on the most popular team in American sports.
The Warriors during Thompson’s career have been transformed from an NBA wasteland into its most coveted destination. So it is no surprise he’d consider a discount. As the son of a former NBA player, he knows, and has been told, how well he has it.