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Are Warriors targeting Christmas Day return for Klay Thompson?

Klay Thompson cleared

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 15: Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors looks on during the game against the Sacramento Kings on December 15, 2019 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Warriors GM Bob Myers said it was “unrealistic” to expect Klay Thompson to return opening night, and that the franchise was “focused on is when do we expect Klay to be Klay, and I don’t know if that will be January, February, March.”

How about Christmas Day?

It’s all speculation with Thompson’s return, but the plugged-in Ramona Shelburne of ESPN threw out Christmas, when the Warriors face the Suns on national television. She said this on ESPN’s The Jump, hat tip to Ali Thanawalla of NBC Sports Bay Area.

He’s doing well in his recovery, but the Warriors are targeting that Christmas day game against the Suns for his return. 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.”

We last saw Klay Thompson on an NBA court in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, when he tore his ACL, then as he worked toward a return came the Achilles injury. Those two years off is why the Warriors don’t want to push his return.

“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.”

Golden State is a fringe contender, a team with talent but one that needs a lot of things to go right. That means a leap from James Wiseman at the five, more out of Andrew Wiggins (good luck with that), Stephen Curry and Draymond Green staying healthy, and Klay Thompson to return to being All-NBA Klay Thompson. Which means a conservative approach to his return is the right move. As much as he wants to be back and playing, the Warriors need to think long-term, not just for themselves this season but for Thompson and the rest of his career. There is no reason to push things for a November game.

Whenever he returns, basketball fans everywhere will be happy. He brings joy to the game.