Tristan Thompson kisses Cavs sideline reporter after interview (Video)

Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson wrapped up his pregame interview with sideline reporter Allie Clifton with a kiss on the cheek prior to Friday night’s preseason game against Dallas.Thompson appeared to be in a playful mood and had no ill intentions, but clearly took Clifton a bit off guard. Video via @CJZero. H/T TNLP.
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Watch: Cavs’ Tristan Thompson kisses sideline reporter

Last we checked in on Tristan Thompson, he was deciding if he should shoot jumpers with his right hand or left, a somewhat odd dilemma to be having at the NBA level. While he may have been indecisive on how to shoot, that indecisiveness seems to not carry over to his on camera persona where he basically just went for it by planting a smooch on sideline reporter Allie Clifton. As you can see below, it almost has the feel of a dare or a “punishment” for a lost bet as Thompson makes some insinuating winks and grins before making his move. He also says awkwardly says  “You know how I do Tina” which seems to elude to something or other although we’re not cool enough to be a part of this inside joke. Anyways, Thompson then goes for it and is out like a bandit leaving Clifton shocked but impressively composed. Stay tuned if we have to go through a cycle of apologies, punishments, and prepared statements or if this will get lost in the Friday Night news-cycle. [Video via CJZero. H/T to Wahooligcan] The po

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Cavs’ Tristan Thompson Kisses Sideline Reporter During Interview

Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson is gaining more and more confidence each year he’s in the NBA.

That confidence can be seen on the court and in interviews.

During a sideline interview with Fox Sports, Thompson planted a wet one on unsuspecting reporter Allie Clifton.

[YouTube

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Video: Cavs’ Tristan Thompson kisses sideline reporter

Last we checked in on Tristan Thompson, he was deciding if he should shoot jumpers with his right hand or left, a somewhat odd dilemma to be having at the NBA level. While he may have been indecisive on how to shoot, that indecisiveness seems to not carry over to his on camera persona where he basically just went for it by planting a smooch on sideline reporter Allie Clifton. As you can see below, it almost has the feel of a dare or a “punishment” for a lost bet as Thompson makes some insinuating winks and grins before making his move. He also says awkwardly says  “You know how I do Tina” which seems to elude to something or other although we’re not cool enough to be a part of this inside joke. Anyways, Thompson then goes for it and is out like a bandit leaving Clifton shocked but impressively composed. Stay tuned if we have to go through a cycle of apologies, punishments, and prepared statements or if this will get lost in the Friday Night news-cycle. [Video via CJZero. H/T to Wahooligcan] The po

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Golden State Warriors Can’t Balk on Committing to Klay Thompson Now

The Golden State Warriors have consistently supported two-way star Klay Thompson throughout his race to a maximum contract, but now—mere steps before the finish line—they may be getting cold feet.

Apparently, treating Thompson as an NBA superstar and paying him as such are two different things. With so much energy expended on the former, though, the Dubs have to bite the bullet on the latter.

Frankly, it’s a surprise this message even needs to be delivered. The Warriors had to see this coming after watching Thompson, who has until October 31 to sign an extension that would keep him out of restricted free agency next summer, spend his offseason securing a max-level raise.

His market seemed to be set once Gordon Hayward (four years, $63 million) and Chandler Parsons (three years, $46 million) scored megadeals from the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets, respectively. Thompson was a better scorer (18.4 points per game), shooter (41.7 three-point percentage) and defender than either one last season.

Thompson was also one of 12 players selected to Team USA’s 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup roster, which both Hayward and Parsons tried out for but didn’t make. More than that, though, Thompson was also one of the gold-medal-winning group’s most important players.

“[Thompson] has been, really, as good a player as we’ve had,” coach Mike Krzyzewski told USA Today‘s Sam Amick last month. “He’s consistent. … He’s become our most versatile defender. … He’s had a terrific stay with us.”

Before Thompson even had the chance to raise his profile on the international stage, the Warriors had already lifted it for him.

They were engaged in trade talks for perennial All-Star Kevin Love, but the deal hit a snag due to an “organizational split” on the team’s willingness to part with Thompson, sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne. Love was later sent to the revamped Cleveland Cavaliers in a package that brought back, among others, this year’s No. 1 draft pick, Andrew Wiggins.

Love, for the record, finished the 2013-14 campaign ranked fourth in scoring (26.1), third in rebounding (12.5), third in player efficiency rating (26.9) and third in win shares (14.3). That is the caliber of player the Warriors had a chance of acquiring, and they passed up that opportunity—at least in part—because of Thompson.

While that seems like a firm commitment to Thompson’s future, the team has yet to (literally) put its money where its mouth is. Despite interest from both sides in getting something done, Comcast SportsNet’s Monte Poole reports that contract negotiation talks have stalled:

There has been no movement in recent weeks. As of Thursday morning, the sides remain $2-3 million a year apart, according to NBA sources.

The dithering seems pointless when all parties consistently state their desire for a deal. The Warriors want it. Thompson wants it. His teammates want it. And there is no indication Klay‘s agent, Bill Duffy, has lost the optimism he expressed last month.

If that sounds puzzling, it should.

All previous signs have pointed not only to Thompson inking a max extension but also to the Warriors being the team to cut the check. As Bleacher Report’s Sean Highkin observed, there seems to be a disconnect between what has transpired and what is now taking place:

It’s not as if Thompson has done anything to lower his price tag.

He has 45 points in 51 preseason minutes. The three-point cannon responsible for the most perimeter makes in NBA history over the first three seasons of a career (545) has flashed with regularity, as he has connected on six of his eight long-range looks.

Overall, he has converted 57.1 percent of his field-goal attempts. While most of his damage has come from distance—and given his three-point proficiency, why wouldn’t it?—he has also showcased an off-the-dribble attack he has been routinely criticized for not having.

His 25-point performance against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night even drew rave reviews from five-time champion Kobe Bryant, per Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group:

Thompson’s offensive arsenal is deeper than most think, but critics routinely point to the statistical holes in his game.

Last season, his 18.7 passes per game were the fewest among any player to see at least 30 minutes of action a night, per NBA.com’s SportVU player tracking data. His 4.7 rebounding percentage was the second-lowest out of all players 6’7″ or taller with the same workload requirement.

Those sound like critical weaknesses, but these numbers are a bit deceptive.

On the rebounding front, Thompson’s opportunities are limited by his role. The Warriors try to maximize his impact as a floor spacer. Of his 1,357 field-goal attempts last season, over 42 percent came from beyond the arc. Another 34.6 percent came between 10 feet away from the basket and the three-point line.

That positioning doesn’t exactly lend itself to putting in work on the glass, and neither does chasing point guards around the perimeter to keep Stephen Curry fresh at the defensive end.

It’s also worth noting that a lot of players Thompson’s height or taller don’t man the shooting guard position. Among those who do, his rebounding average (3.1) is in the same ballpark as guys like Joe Johnson (3.4) and Kevin Martin (3.0). So, it’s not as if Thompson is missing out on a ton of boards other 2-guards are tracking down.

Plus, the Warriors ranked ninth in rebounding percentage last season (51.1). They were eighth (51.3) the year before. With Andrew Bogut (10.0 rebounds) and David Lee (9.3) manning the middle, Golden State isn’t exactly hurting on the glass.

As for Thompson’s paltry passing numbers, those can largely be dismissed by the way he has been utilized in this offense.

Last season, no one attempted more catch-and-shoot jumpers per game than Thompson (7.6), via SportVU. Only former MVP Dirk Nowitzki averaged more catch-and-shoot makes (3.5 to 3.4). Considering Thompson knocked down those shots at a 44.7 percent clip (44.2 percent from three), the Warriors don’t have a lot of motivation to move him away from that play type.

Thompson could stand to tighten his handles and improve his dribble-penetration game, but even that isn’t a major concern in today’s NBA.

With the movement of Spurs Basketball sweeping through the league (as it should) the need for shooting guards playing off the bounce, one-on-one, a la Allen Iverson is much more of a lessening need than is the high IQ ball movement and extremely efficient shooting ability,” wrote HoopsHype’s David Nurse.

Thompson can be both a specialist and a star. There is plenty to be said for maximizing one’s strengths, especially when those strengths grade out as elite.

Not every player is going to have a perfectly well-rounded game. Most of them don’t, in fact.

Golden State hasn’t asked Thompson to step outside of his lane; the masses have mistakenly made that request. As Sports Illustrated‘s Ben Golliver wrote, Thompson has excelled in the exact areas the Warriors need him most:

Even if his off-the-dribble game is limited and he doesn’t really get to the line that often, Thompson’s spot-up shooting and his ability to create good looks with his off-ball movement are more than enough to make him a deadly secondary threat alongside Curry. The widespread credit he has received recently for his effort level and fundamentals on defense is deserved, and he cleanly fits the prototype of what a shooting guard should be.

In other words, Thompson is about to get paid—both for what he does and what he means to this team.

The Warriors have to know this, and truth be told, they probably do. It’s hard to blame them for trying to save a few pennies at the negotiating table, and it still seems likely he will remain a part of their long-term plans.

But this situation needs to end with Thompson’s signature on the dotted line. And that means following through with his superstar treatment by putting a max offer on the table.

The Dubs could wait to see if one surfaces next summer and then match it, but that’s only delaying the inevitable. It is definitely coming.

“League sources are adamant in saying Timberwolves boss Flip Saunders was prepared to give Thompson a max deal if Minny were to pry to Klay away from the Warriors as part of a deal for power forward Kevin Love,” Poole reported.

The Wolves wouldn’t be the only ones willing to cross that bridge, either. Not with the salary cap exponentially increasing in the coming seasons thanks to the league’s new $24 billion TV deal.

The Warriors need Thompson, and they haven’t tried to mask that fact.

“We love Klay,” Warriors owner Joe Lacob told Amick. “He is clearly an integral part of our team and our future.”

Thompson, meanwhile, has no worries. He is in a great situation with Golden State, and anything capable of luring him away from the Bay would come with a fat contract attached.

“I don’t think he’s too concerned,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, per Leung. “He knows something really good is going to happen one way or the other.”

For the Warriors, this can only have one solution: paying Thompson what he has earned and continuing their quest toward a world title. Even if they feel the rate is a little steep, they do not want to find out what the alternative would be.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.

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Warriors beat Lakers 120-105 with 25 from Thompson (Yahoo Sports)

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 9: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors during a game on October 9, 2014 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Juan O'Campo/NBAE via Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Klay Thompson scored 25 points and backcourt-mate Stephen Curry added 20, leading the Golden State Warriors to a 120-105 preseason victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.


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Report: Thompson, Warriors far apart in contract talks

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who is fresh off an offseason that saw him win a gold medal for the United States in the World Cup and find himself in multiple trade rumors involving Kevin Love, is reportedly far apart in negotiation extensions with his current team. According to CSN Bay Area, there is about $2-$3 million annual difference between what Thompson wants and what the Warriors are currently offering.
As of Thursday morning, the sides remain $2-3 million a year apart, according to NBA sources. The dithering seems pointless when all parties consistently state their desire for a deal. The Warriors want it. Thompson wants it. His teammates want it. And there is no indication Klay’s agent, Bill Duffy, has lost the optimism he expressed last month. Thompson is seeking a max deal, or something close – at least $15 million per year – while the Warriors, according to sources, hover around $13 million per.
The shooting guard is set to become a restricted free agent following this season.

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Latest on Tristan Thompson, Austin Rivers and More

With the 2014-15 NBA season drawing closer, teams are already looking ahead to how they’ll handle the next offseason. As a result, the rumor mill is beginning to heat up.

General managers never waste any time when it comes to planning their team’s future. Free agency is one of the easiest ways to build a contender, and one of the most important steps in being competitive for the most marquee players is ensuring you have the cap room.

Plenty of franchises are already doing the math when it comes to considering extensions for current players. Tristan Thompson and Austin Rivers are two such players.

Below are updates on their current statuses and the future of one of the league’s biggest franchises.

 

Tristan Thompson

Lost a bit in all of the excitement about LeBron James and Kevin Love somewhat is the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers will soon have to reach a decision about what to do with Thompson. If they don’t agree to an extension with the fourth-year forward by the end of the month, then he’ll become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal wrote that the early signs so far point to Thompson entering free agency, and in the event that happens, much of his value will be tied to his role with the Cavs this year. Head coach David Blatt is still deciding whether Thompson or Anderson Varejao will start at the 5.

If Thompson’s getting regular minutes with the starters, a source who spoke to Lloyd thinks he could flourish, which would only drive his price tag higher:

In fact, one league source thought it would be in Thompson’s best interest to take this to restricted free agency given the talent surrounding him. Love’s skills as a stretch power forward, coupled with Blatt’s system that balances the floor on offense, will often leave Thompson alone inside to grab rebounds and produce big numbers.

Lloyd noted a little earlier in the piece that Derrick Favors’ four-year, $49 million-plus extension “was the neighborhood in which Thompson wanted to start building.”

Even though his offense remains marginal at best, Thompson’s rebounding and defense make him a valuable piece for most teams. The problem for Cleveland is that it is committing and will likely commit a ton of money to James, Love and Kyrie Irving over the next few years.

In addition, they’d likely be giving Thompson more money than he’s truly worth if the Cavaliers are as successful as most expect them to be. Players are always overvalued after their team does well.

Thompson’s cap figure would look slightly worse in the event the salary cap rises in the coming seasons, but Cleveland would be better off setting aside that money for other ventures.

 

Austin Rivers

The New Orleans Pelicans have a difficult decision to make regarding the fourth-year option for Rivers. The No. 10 overall pick in 2012 had a dreadful rookie season and failed to take a massive step forward in 2013-14.

Grantland’s Zach Lowe reported that during the offseason, the Pelicans considered—albeit not very seriously—getting rid of Rivers in order to make space for Omer Asik:

In the chaos of LeBron James Day, the Pelicans considered both trading Rivers and waiving him with the stretch provision to make sure they had enough room to complete the Asik deal with Houston. To be clear: Stretching Rivers was an absolute last resort, and New Orleans demanded real assets for him in trade talks, per several league sources.

According to Spotrac, Rivers would be due a little over $3.1 million in 2015-16 if the Pelicans were to exercise his option. While that might not seem like much at first, Lowe explained that it could have a big impact for New Orleans if it hopes to bring Asik back when he becomes an unrestricted free agent after this year.

“They could in theory re-sign [Asik] with cap room, but Rivers’s $3.1 million might torpedo that plan,” he wrote. “And if Asik jumps ship, Rivers’s option could be the difference between major cap room and sub–$10 million room.”

Keeping Rivers for a little over $3 million might be worth it. He turned 22 in August, so it’s not like he’s a complete lost cause. Despite playing fewer minutes a night last year, almost all of his per-game averages increased. You can see a comparison between 2012-13 and 2013-14 below, courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.

Whether New Orleans extends Rivers’ contract will depend a lot on what he does in the upcoming season, but if he can continue showing progress on the court, you’d bet that he’ll stay with the Pelicans next year.

If you’re the Pelicans, you’d hate to let him walk before 2015 and then have him fulfill his potential with another team.

 

Brooklyn Nets

On one hand, it would seem crazy that Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov would want to sell the team so soon after dropping a ton of money into the franchise. On the other, if the Los Angeles Clippers cost $2 billion, then how much could Prokhorov get if he puts the Nets on the market?

Bob Nightengale and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today confirmed that the Guggenheim group, which owns the Los Angeles Dodgers, is interested in possibly purchasing the Nets.

“We’re going ahead hopefully. I haven’t seen any numbers on it,” said Mark Walter, who’s controlling owner of the Dodgers and a member of the group. “I think it’s a great franchise. I haven’t heard that it is signed.”

Nightengale and Zillgitt added:

SB Nation reported on Thursday that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was in talks with Guggenheim, and a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports the two sides are having discussions.

The two parties have discussed a combination of assets that would allow Prokhorov to remain the controlling owner of the Nets and allow Bruce Ratner to remain in control of Barclays Center but Guggenheim would gain a share of both the Nets and Barclays Center, according to SB Nation.

Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix also reported that the current Nets owner might be looking to strike while the iron is hot:

Darren Rovell of ESPN broke down what might be Prokhorov‘s financial demands:

Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News refuted the reports that the Nets were on the verge of changing hands.

“He’s not a seller,” said a source to Abramson. “He wants the Nets and he loves the Nets and he wants to be controlling owner. This is something that he really enjoys.”

Before Steve Balmer bought the Clippers, the smart money would’ve been on Prokhorov holding on to the Nets for the long term. However, now that that sale has completely thrown the market for a loop, it would arguably be smarter to sell up now.

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NBA Rumors: Latest on Tristan Thompson, Austin Rivers and More

With the 2014-15 NBA season drawing closer, teams are already looking ahead to how they’ll handle the next offseason. As a result, the rumor mill is beginning to heat up.

General managers never waste any time when it comes to planning their team’s future. Free agency is one of the easiest ways to build a contender, and one of the most important steps in being competitive for the most marquee players is ensuring you have the cap room.

Plenty of franchises are already doing the math when it comes to considering extensions for current players. Tristan Thompson and Austin Rivers are two such players.

Below are updates on their current statuses and the future of one of the league’s biggest franchises.

 

Tristan Thompson

Lost a bit in all of the excitement about LeBron James and Kevin Love somewhat is the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers will soon have to reach a decision about what to do with Thompson. If they don’t agree to an extension with the fourth-year forward by the end of the month, then he’ll become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal wrote that the early signs so far point to Thompson entering free agency, and in the event that happens, much of his value will be tied to his role with the Cavs this year. Head coach David Blatt is still deciding whether Thompson or Anderson Varejao will start at the 5.

If Thompson’s getting regular minutes with the starters, a source who spoke to Lloyd thinks he could flourish, which would only drive his price tag higher:

In fact, one league source thought it would be in Thompson’s best interest to take this to restricted free agency given the talent surrounding him. Love’s skills as a stretch power forward, coupled with Blatt’s system that balances the floor on offense, will often leave Thompson alone inside to grab rebounds and produce big numbers.

Lloyd noted a little earlier in the piece that Derrick Favors’ four-year, $49 million-plus extension “was the neighborhood in which Thompson wanted to start building.”

Even though his offense remains marginal at best, Thompson’s rebounding and defense make him a valuable piece for most teams. The problem for Cleveland is that it is committing and will likely commit a ton of money to James, Love and Kyrie Irving over the next few years.

In addition, they’d likely be giving Thompson more money than he’s truly worth if the Cavaliers are as successful as most expect them to be. Players are always overvalued after their team does well.

Thompson’s cap figure would look slightly worse in the event the salary cap rises in the coming seasons, but Cleveland would be better off setting aside that money for other ventures.

 

Austin Rivers

The New Orleans Pelicans have a difficult decision to make regarding the fourth-year option for Rivers. The No. 10 overall pick in 2012 had a dreadful rookie season and failed to take a massive step forward in 2013-14.

Grantland’s Zach Lowe reported that during the offseason, the Pelicans considered—albeit not very seriously—getting rid of Rivers in order to make space for Omer Asik:

In the chaos of LeBron James Day, the Pelicans considered both trading Rivers and waiving him with the stretch provision to make sure they had enough room to complete the Asik deal with Houston. To be clear: Stretching Rivers was an absolute last resort, and New Orleans demanded real assets for him in trade talks, per several league sources.

According to Spotrac, Rivers would be due a little over $3.1 million in 2015-16 if the Pelicans were to exercise his option. While that might not seem like much at first, Lowe explained that it could have a big impact for New Orleans if it hopes to bring Asik back when he becomes an unrestricted free agent after this year.

“They could in theory re-sign [Asik] with cap room, but Rivers’s $3.1 million might torpedo that plan,” he wrote. “And if Asik jumps ship, Rivers’s option could be the difference between major cap room and sub–$10 million room.”

Keeping Rivers for a little over $3 million might be worth it. He turned 22 in August, so it’s not like he’s a complete lost cause. Despite playing fewer minutes a night last year, almost all of his per-game averages increased. You can see a comparison between 2012-13 and 2013-14 below, courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.

Whether New Orleans extends Rivers’ contract will depend a lot on what he does in the upcoming season, but if he can continue showing progress on the court, you’d bet that he’ll stay with the Pelicans next year.

If you’re the Pelicans, you’d hate to let him walk before 2015 and then have him fulfill his potential with another team.

 

Brooklyn Nets

On one hand, it would seem crazy that Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov would want to sell the team so soon after dropping a ton of money into the franchise. On the other, if the Los Angeles Clippers cost $2 billion, then how much could Prokhorov get if he puts the Nets on the market?

Bob Nightengale and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today confirmed that the Guggenheim group, which owns the Los Angeles Dodgers, is interested in possibly purchasing the Nets.

“We’re going ahead hopefully. I haven’t seen any numbers on it,” said Mark Walter, who’s controlling owner of the Dodgers and a member of the group. “I think it’s a great franchise. I haven’t heard that it is signed.”

Nightengale and Zillgitt added:

SB Nation reported on Thursday that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was in talks with Guggenheim, and a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports the two sides are having discussions.

The two parties have discussed a combination of assets that would allow Prokhorov to remain the controlling owner of the Nets and allow Bruce Ratner to remain in control of Barclays Center but Guggenheim would gain a share of both the Nets and Barclays Center, according to SB Nation.

Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix also reported that the current Nets owner might be looking to strike while the iron is hot:

Darren Rovell of ESPN broke down what might be Prokhorov‘s financial demands:

Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News refuted the reports that the Nets were on the verge of changing hands.

“He’s not a seller,” said a source to Abramson. “He wants the Nets and he loves the Nets and he wants to be controlling owner. This is something that he really enjoys.”

Before Steve Balmer bought the Clippers, the smart money would’ve been on Prokhorov holding on to the Nets for the long term. However, now that that sale has completely thrown the market for a loop, it would arguably be smarter to sell up now.

Brooklyn doesn’t look like a serious title contender in 2015, so it’s doubtful that the demand would grow any time over the next few months or even years. The franchise’s value will likely never be higher.

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Did Klay Thompson Prove He’s a Max Player This Offseason?

It isn’t easy for NBA players to greatly improve their profiles over the offseason, but Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson managed to do just that.

From his featured role in the ill-fated Kevin-Love-to-the-Warriors trade talks to his prominent position with Team USA’s gold medalists at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Thompson’s status grew to heights previously unseen by the 24-year-old.

But did they rise high enough to warrant the max-contract demands that USA Today’s Sam Amick reported were made by Thompson’s agent, Bill Duffy? That’s a question the Warriors front office needs to figure out by October 31, the deadline to ink Thompson to an extension and prevent his potential path to restricted free agency next summer.

The Warriors, unsurprisingly, haven’t yet tipped their hands on the matter. They have, however, publicly proclaimed how much they cherish their two-way 2-guard and stressed that they want him to stick around as long as possible.

“We value him in the highest way,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said, per Bay Area News Group’s Diamond Leung, “and we want to keep him on this team for a long time.”

Of course, the team’s stance would have been equally clear had Myers said nothing at all. The Warriors’ pursuit of Love stalled because of an “organizational split” on whether to include Thompson in the deal, sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne.

If the Dubs had hesitations about dealing Thompson for Love, who has appeared in three of the last four NBA All-Star games, that speaks volumes on how much the franchise values the sniper.

It also signals the fact that a max deal sits in Thompson’s near future. The Warriors will surely try to talk their way out of paying that premium—and could conceivably force Duffy to find that money elsewhere next summer—but some team is going to foot the bill.

And considering both what the Warriors have invested in Thompson and how well he fits alongside franchise face Stephen Curry, they’ll probably be the ones signing the check.

“That backcourt is special,” Klay‘s father Mychal Thompson told Amick. “You don’t break that up. He and Steph, they are a great combination, like Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Sanford and Son. They’re perfect together. … I expect them to be together another 10 years. I’d be shocked if they’re not.”

Debating how much Thompson will make on his next deal has been an exercise in futility since the ink dried on the new contracts of Gordon Hayward (four years, $63 million) and Chandler Parsons (three years, $46 million).

Per Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, those negotiations cemented a max-money payday for Thompson:

If Thompson and his agent were contemplating a $12 million average (still pricey!) before the Parsons and Hayward deals, that’s outdated now.

Post-Parsons/Hayward, Thompson’s next deal has to start at his maximum level, which is estimated to be slightly more than $15 million next year for a player of Thompson’s experience level.

Has to start there, and has to average about $16-17 million overall, unless Thompson’s career collapses, which it probably won’t.

The far more interesting conversation to be had is whether Thompson actually deserves such an investment.

The stat sheet paints him as a specialist, firing off three-point bombs at one end and stifling perimeter attacks at the other. He does both exceptionally well.

His 545 threes over the past three seasons are second only to Curry’s 588. Thompson’s 41.0 three-point percentage ranks fourth among the 20 most prolific perimeter shooters over that stretch.

Defensively, Thompson shines brightest for his versatility. He has the speed to stay in front of track-star point guards and the size and strength to bother bigger scorers out on the wings. Those traits help him tackle Golden State’s toughest backcourt assignment, allowing Curry to conserve his energy for the opposite side.

The numbers stop short of labeling Thompson as an elite defender. The 0.82 points per possession he allowed to opposing scorers last season ranked 69th in defensive efficiency, per Synergy Sports (subscription required). Considering the caliber of player he squared up with on a nightly basis, though, that standing is far more impressive than it sounds.

Along with All-Defensive first-teamer Andre Iguodala and rim protector Andrew Bogut, Thompson helped power the Warriors to the NBA’s third-best defensive efficiency (99.9 points allowed per 100 possessions). Truth be told, Thompson may have had the heaviest hand in that ranking.

“Klay is a much better defender [than Iguodala],” a former Warriors assistant told Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher. “It’s not even close.”

Combine those two elements, and the result is a two-way force.

Appropriately, the Warriors outscored opponents by 9.5 points per 100 possessions with Thompson on the floor and were outscored by 5.2 points per 100 possessions when he sat. That 14.7-point net differential was second only to Iguodala’s (17.0) on the team.

In other words, there is some substance at the source of Thompson’s max-contract request.

However, there are some holes in his game—and, by extension, that request.

He offers little in the form of offensive creativity. He has averaged just 2.2 assists over his three-year career. His 10.2 assist percentage ranked 43rd out of the 46 guards who averaged at least 30 minutes per game last season (minimum 41 games played).

The problem with his inability to set up his teammates is compounded by the fact that he rarely found himself shots.

Over 62 percent of his two-point field goals came off assists last season. Of the 27 guards and forwards who averaged at least 18 points last season, only power forwards David Lee (68.2) and Blake Griffin (64.9) were assisted on a higher percentage of their baskets.

Thompson also struggles to force his way to the free-throw line, where he’s averaged just 1.9 trips a night over his career. His shot chart, captured via NBA.com, also pegs him as a pedestrian finisher around the basket.

As a rebounder, Thompson checks in well below average. Of the 56 players 6’7″ or taller to see at least 30 minutes of action a night in 2013-14 (min. 41 games), only Corey Brewer’s 4.3 rebound percentage checked in behind Thompson’s 4.7.

Yet while he certainly needs to grow in a number of different areas, some of those numbers are negatively impacted by his role on the team.

The Warriors don’t ask Thompson to initiate offense for a couple of reasons.

For starters, he spent nearly 83 percent of his floor time alongside Curry, who finished fifth in overall assists (8.5) and seventh in assist opportunities (15.4), via SportVU player tracking data provided to NBA.com. Golden State simply didn’t have much incentive to take the ball out of Curry’s hands.

Doing so would have also weakened one of Thompson’s greatest strengths: spot-up shooting. His 9.2 catch-and-shoot points per game led the entire league, as he hit 44.7 percent of his field goals and 44.2 percent of his threes on that type of play.

As for his rebounding troubles, those can partly be explained by his defensive positioning. Not only did he spend a majority of his time chasing scorers around the perimeter, he also leaked out when he could to spark an offense that far too often grew stagnant in the half-court under former coach Mark Jackson.

Thompson has his faults, but none so severe that they push him out of max-contract range.

As ESPN Insider Bradford Doolittle explained (subscription required), Thompson’s max market is easy to identify by the way he has been propped up around the league:

Decision-makers in the NBA are very smart. The Warriors might have been able to obtain Love…but chose not to because they wanted to keep Thompson. That also means that the Timberwolves, if all this is true, would have been willing to send Love to the Warriors, but only if they could get their hands on Thompson, likely even with the knowledge that he wanted a max extension. And as mentioned, it’s commonly believed that if the Warriors don’t give Thompson the max now, some team will leap to do so next July.

Whether he expands his game or simply continues shoring up his strengths, it seems obvious that—barring injury—his best days are ahead of him. It’s easy to forget after his summer in the spotlight that he has all of three NBA seasons under his belt.

He has so many avenues of improvement available to him, yet he has already played his way into a substantial raise. That’s why when it comes to his future finances, he has no worries regarding how this situation will progress.

“I just let (agent Bill Duffy) and the front office sort it out,” he said, per Leung. “I know if I just keep my mind on hoops and staying healthy, I know everything else will take care of itself.”

Those are the words of a comfortable, confident player. Judging by his offseason, he has every right to feel that way.

His jackpot payday is coming sooner than later.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.

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