Klay Thompson's return is so close the Warriors can taste it.
With the five-time All-Star about to play his first NBA game in almost 1,000 days, Steve Kerr knows he will have to juggle the rotation and figure out the best way to manage Thompson's workload as he continues to ramp back up.
There reportedly is "optimism" that Thompson could return Sunday when the Warriors host the Cleveland Cavaliers at Chase Center. With the long-awaited return no longer on the periphery, Kerr discussed the initial minutes plan for Thompson, noting he and the Warriors don't have a definitive number at the moment.
"Klay is Klay. So we'll start him and we'll play him however many minutes that first game," Kerr told reporters Tuesday at shootaround in Dallas. "My guess is 15 to 20 minutes and then we just build him up from there and work around him."
As for whether or not Thompson will play in back-to-backs, Kerr noted that how Thompson feels after logging NBA minutes will dictate the course of action, but it's unlikely the star will play in back-to-back games at first.
"There's a good chance that we will rest him on back-to-backs," Kerr said. "It's all going to depend on how he responds to his early minutes and what Rick [Celebrini] is telling me. But I think there is a good chance we will keep him out of back-to-backs to start, but we don't know that yet."
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When Thompson spoke with the media last Friday, he noted that he will need time to build back up but hopes that he will be all the way back when it matters most.
"The shot feels great," Thompson said. "It always feels great. The shot I'm never worried about. The hardest part when you come back from a long layoff is the timing, the rhythm of the game and the conditioning aspect. Even when I do come back to play, whenever that is, it's going to be on a minutes restriction and it's going to build throughout the whole season and hopefully peak when it's winning time. Which is all the time, but when it really, really matters."
Thompson and the Warriors always planned for his return to come at home in front of what will undoubtedly be a raucous Chase Center crowd. That moment could come Sunday against the Cavs or at a later date. But the important thing is that Thompson has fully recovered from two severe leg injuries, has crested a steep rehab mountain, and now the Warriors are about to become whole again.