Celtics boss Danny Ainge is a master at milking the clock on the trade market. While right now it looks like the Celtics will trade the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for guard Jimmy Butler (as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith pointed out Monday on First Take) another team could swoop in before the draft kicks off at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
If there is a team in the NBA that does NOT have to make a move on draft night it is the NBA champion Warriors, who currently own what is being regarded as the best roster in pro basketball history. All indications are that the Warriors will re-sign Steph Curry and Kevin Durant to new deals this summer. That would make fourth-wheel Klay Thompson the Warriors player next up in search of a new contract. Under the new CBA, Thompson is eligible for an extension this summer – even though his deal is not up until the summer of 2019, when he could become an unrestricted free agent.
The Warriors are not in a position to panic given that they can just ride out the next two seasons with Thompson on the roster. Money is not much of a motivating factor for Thompson, who grew up pretty well to do as the son of an NBA player. The only thing that the Warriors need to worry about with Thompson is ego.
Thompson actually averaged more points per game in this past regular season with Durant on the roster than he did the previous year. But those numbers may be skewed a tad given how many games Durant missed due to injury during the regular season. In the playoffs, Thompson averaged just 15 points per game, a considerable dip from his 24.3 average the year prior.
Thompson has never stopped saying the right things during his time in Oakland. He was fine being the Solange to Steph Curry’s Beyonce during the early Splash Brothers days, and he seems fine to be the fourth most recognizable player on the Warriors now.
The Vertical’s Chris Mannix asked Thompson during the NBA Finals if he had thought about “one day being the face of another team?” Thompson shrugged, and said, “Yeah … It’s just winning is so much fun.”
Ainge could likely convince Thompson that Boston was a great fit for him in free agency considering that Thompson could “be the man” and win as a member of the Celtics. The problem, of course, is that Thompson is not a free agent, is under contract to Golden State, and it’s extremely unlikely that he’s just going to walk into Bob Myers office this summer and demand a trade.
But the rumors of Thompson being the odd man out will persist so long as the Warriors remain the juggernaut that they are. ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote last week about the Warriors’ future cap situation and that “no team has ever paid anything like [what the Warriors would have to pay to retain all four of their stars].
“The Warriors almost certainly won’t [pay all four],” Lowe wrote. “The only way out is to trade one star. Thompson would seem like the likeliest candidate.”
One of Thompson’s Western Conference rivals, Portland’s CJ McCollum, tweeted this during the Finals: “Klay gonna get another ring and find his own squad. They better enjoy him while he there.”
Much like the pipe dream of landing Anthony Davis, the Celtics would be best advised to wait in trying to swing a Thompson trade. Everything is hunky-dory in the Bay Area right now, and there is zero incentive for the Warriors to jump the gun on a Thompson deal.
Given everything we’ve heard in the past few days regarding a potential Celtics trade though, it seems that Ainge is done waiting and there are big names to be had. None of them are perfect, as Paul George is hell-bent on going to the Lakers next summer and could wind up as a one-year rental, and it’s very much up for debate on whether or not Butler is a bon a fide superstar (i.e. a top 15 player).
Thompson would be an ideal fit for the Celtics.
What would they have to give up? The old Brian Scalabine Thompson rumors suggest the Warriors would want Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and a lottery pick. That rumor painted Bradley as something of a Kyrie Irving stopper, though, and as we've come to find out there's not really such a thing that exists. Irving averaged 25.8 points per game against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals and 29.4 points per game against the Warriors in the Finals.
The Warriors are, as the kids say, "all good."