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Rumor: Orlando Magic to make run at Klay Thompson this summer

Golden State Warriors v Utah Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - FEBRUARY 15: Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors looks on during the first half of a game against the Utah Jazz at Delta Center on February 15, 2024 in Salt Lake City, Utah. 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 the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

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It’s almost impossible to imagine Klay Thompson in anything but a Warriors uniform.

It could happen this summer for a variety of reasons (primarily financial). But if not the Warriors, who will chase and pay Thompson? Enter the Orlando Magic, reports Marc Stein in his post-All-Star Newsletter.

Orlando has been increasingly mentioned as a potential suitor for Klay Thompson in free agency. The Magic’s available cap space is difficult to project this far out. That figure could rise as high as $45 million but depends on their future plans with free agents-to-be Markelle Fultz and Gary Harris as well as Jonathan Isaac (whose $17.4 million salary next season is non-guaranteed).

How big a contract and how many years do the Warriors want to give Thompson? He’s still a good player who can knock down the 3, but he’s not at an All-Star level anymore, and plenty of people around the league think his new sixth-man role is the right fit. Orlando may be interested, but how much do they want to pay an aging Thompson, and what role will they give him? This is a young and improving Magic team, do they want to spend their free agent capital on a guy not on the timeline of Paolo Banchero an Franz Wagner?

The complicating factor is the Warriors’ luxury tax situation. This past week, team Governor Joe Lacob said, “Our Plan 1, or 1A, is that we’d like to be out of the tax, and we think that we have a way to do that.” Lacob said that included bringing back players — implying Thompson and Chris Paul — but at much lower salary numbers (Thompson is making $42 million this season).

The Warriors have eight guaranteed contracts on the books for next season at around $137 million (that includes Gary Payton II picking up his $9.1 million option), and the luxury tax line next season is projected to be $172 million. If the Warriors give Thompson $25 million a season — what they just gave Draymond Green last summer — it would leave about $10 million for the remaining five roster spots (they would have to be minimum contracts). If Thompson takes less, the Warriors have more to spend on players such as Chris Paul and others.

That Thompson and the Warriors have yet to reach a deal on an extension, but the smart bet is they will. It’s really difficult to picture Thompson in an Orlando uniform.