Imagine the Warriors’ brain trust sitting in a conference room discussing free agency plans. They debate needs, which players to target, how much money to spend and length of contract.
They also ask the most important question of all: How will he fit in our culture?
Klay Thompson fits like a perfect pair of sunglasses.
The kind of shades that, if they were lost, would be so badly missed that it would result in forming a search party with the mission of finding an exact duplicate.
There never was a moment’s doubt that the Warriors would do all they could to retain Thompson. CEO Joe Lacob and chief partner Peter Guber haven’t pushed the franchise to unprecedented heights by skimping on the talent.
When it was time, two years ago, to pay Stephen Curry the supermax, negotiation was not required.
The same applies now that it’s time to pay Thompson the max. The Warriors, according to league sources, will offer $190 million because it’s the surest way to keep the All-Star shooting guard with the franchise for another five years.
Agreeing to sign, probably on the first available day (July 6), is an easy call for Klay, who has expressed a desire to spend his entire career with the only organization he has ever known.
In the years since they drafted Thompson 11th overall in 2012, the Warriors have come to know him as redoubtable and reliable, with the skills and passion to excel on offense and defense. His two head coaches in the NBA, Mark Jackson and Steve Kerr, both describe Thompson as zero maintenance.
There never have been questions about Thompson’s dedication, the perfect illustration of which came in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, when he tore his left ACL and tried to jog it away in hopes of returning to the game.
On such an accomplished squad, with so many stars, some of whom put forth conditions, Thompson asks only a chance to play. Great teams place a value on that.
There are times when he lives up to his reputation of being “thirsty” for shots, but the Warriors have learned to live with that, knowing that a Klay Thompson scoring binge is like nothing else in the league, breathtaking and mesmerizing, automation in human form.
Thompson’s injury, which will require at least eight months of rehab, changed nothing from the Warriors’ point of view. They already had decided to offer the max, and they weren’t about to renege in front of that locker room or in this league. The commitment stayed in place.
The same soon will be said of Thompson. He’ll be a Warrior for the foreseeable future. As he wanted and deserves. The professional element of life gets no better than receiving the highest salary available in the workplace of one’s choice.