Klay Thompson is making steady progress in his rehab from a torn right Achilles, as he showed in a video posted to Instagram on Thursday night.
But the return of the Warriors' star might not be as early as many had hoped.
In June, Warriors president Bob Myers said Klay more than likely would return in December, but he never said at what point in December.
Now, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported Friday that the date the Warriors are aiming for is in late December.
"He's doing well in his recovery, but the Warriors are targeting that Christmas day game against the [Phoenix] Suns for his return," Shelburne said on ESPN's "The Jump" on Friday. "He could come back a little bit before that, but in terms of getting his conditioning right, they are targeting the Christmas day game against the Suns. I know that sounds a little late to people, but he was injured on November 18th, so this is 13 months from an Achilles injury."
When host Malika Andrews asked why Dec. 25 is the target date, Shelburne explained.
"A lot of this is conditioning," Shelburne said. "He's doing well in his rehab, but he's missed two seasons in a row now. So you don't bring him back [early]. This is a conservative target. If he does well and his conditioning is up, and he feels like he wants to come back earlier, he will. But this is a conservative target of Christmas day because you need time to build your conditioning back up when you've missed two NBA seasons."
The Warriors' 2021-22 NBA schedule was released Friday, and if Klay doesn't return until Dec. 25, he will miss the first 32 games of the season. That would give Klay 50 games to get back into the flow of playing NBA games and get his conditioning at peak levels before an expected playoff run.
Not only is Klay rehabbing his right Achilles that he tore on draft night in 2020, but he still hasn't played an NBA game on the surgically repaired left ACL he tore in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.
Myers and the front office improved the roster this summer, bringing back Andre Iguodala, signing Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica and drafting Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.
But everyone inside and outside the organization understands the fate of the Warriors' season rests on Klay's return and how effective is once he is back. Coach Steve Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole recently that Klay is the X-factor for the 2021-22 season.
While Klay missing at least 32 games seems like a lot, the Warriors would rather be safe than sorry with the Splash Brother. He is that important to the success of the franchise.
Klay's return would be a pretty good Christmas present for Dub Nation.