The Golden State Warriors‘ five-year run of consecutive trips to the NBA Finals out of the brutal Western Conference looks to be coming to an end.
It’s a combination of several things, including a long-term injury to Kevin Durant, the aging of their core and the fact that a numbers of their players are hitting free agency.
The Warriors, however, aren’t going down without a fight, and they look set to open their wallets in a big way to try to extend their championship window.
Behold the Woj Bomb:
Sources: Golden State is planning to offer All-Star Klay Thompson a 5-year, $190M maximum contract when free agency opens Sunday at 6 PM ET — which is expected to accelerate process of GM Bob Myers and Thompson’s agent, Greg Lawrence, quickly reaching formal agreement.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 28, 2019
“Sources: Golden State is planning to offer All-Star Klay Thompson a 5-year, $190M maximum contract when free agency opens Sunday at 6 PM ET — which is expected to accelerate process of GM Bob Myers and Thompson’s agent, Greg Lawrence, quickly reaching formal agreement,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted Friday.
Since Thompson is already on the Warriors, Golden State can offer him an extra year and a higher salary than any other team.
And offering him a max deal is a sign the team consider the “Splash Brothers” backcourt of Thompson and point guard Stephen Curry to be indispensable, all the more so since Durant’s injury will leave the Warriors with a serious lack of star power if they don’t bring Thompson back.
There are just two problems with this strategy.
One, Thompson tore his ACL during the Finals and will be out for most of next season — after which he’ll be on the wrong side of 30 — and with his athleticism greatly reduced by the inevitable decline that follows players who sustain severe injuries in the NBA.
And two — when you look deep into his statistics, Thompson simply isn’t $38-million-a-year worth of good.
There is one skill at which Thompson is unquestionably elite; he’s a career 41.9 percent 3-point shooter.
But the problem is that shooting 3-pointers is the only thing Thompson does really well.
Despite five straight trips to the All-Star Game, Thompson’s Value Over Replacement Player has declined every year since peaking at 2.9 in 2014-15.
Thompson’s 0.8 VORP ranked 139th in the NBA in 2018-19.
The Warriors are about to give $190 million to the 139th-best player in the league, a guy who finished 17 places behind Lonzo Ball in the rankings and whose Warriors teammate DeMarcus Cousins put up a higher VORP despite only playing 30 games.
But Golden State didn’t have a lot of available options.
Even if they let Thompson and Durant walk, they’re still capped out thanks to the “supermax” extension they gave Curry, and they’d be far less likely to attract free agents if it looked like they were gutting the team for a rebuild.
Not giving other teams a chance to lure Thompson and his shooting away was the best chance the Warriors had to keep a star — even a grotesquely overrated one — on the roster.
The Warriors are going to be atrocious in five years.
With Curry and Thompson taking up over $80 million in combined salary by 2023 and both men well past 30, their best hope might be to get lucky in the draft lottery once the championship luster fades for good.
But in the short term, fans get to watch two players who have been together since they were drafted — Curry seventh overall in 2009, Thompson with the 11th pick in 2011 — set some unbreakable records for 3-point output by a pair of teammates.
And as for Thompson himself, you can’t fault him for getting a $190 million reward for being part of one of the greatest runs of sustained excellence the league has ever seen. But as a basketball move … man, what a disaster waiting to happen.
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