Klay Thompson may have just played his last Warriors game – here’s what might come next for the team legend

It’s somewhat fitting that the Sacramento Kings were the ones to knock the Golden State Warriors out of the 2024 playoffs. During most of their decade-long reign, the Kings were Golden State’s doormat. Between 2014-15 and 2021-22, the Warriors have a 23-7 record versus their northern rivals. The Kings never made the playoffs during that time. They finally did a season ago, and they pushed the Warriors to the edge in a seven-game struggle. Golden State narrowly survived. They weren’t as lucky this time around in the Play-In Tournament.




The NBA is a fast-paced environment. Dynasties never last as long as you expect, and their demise is frequently faster and more savage than you can imagine. The Warriors survived long enough for the lesser Kings to catch up with them. Now, they’re nearing the end of their contending cycle, and for the first time in this entire run, the dynasty is actually in jeopardy, not because the Warriors will never compete again, but because the holy trio of superstars who made it possible may finally split up.

Klay Thompson may have just played his last Warriors game - here's what might come next for the team legend
Klay Thompson may have just played his last Warriors game – here’s what might come next for the team legend

Klay Thompson is scheduled to become a free agent this offseason. For the majority of Golden State’s time at the top of the NBA, the prospect of a Splash Brother saying goodbye seemed unthinkable. But things have changed. Thompson is no longer a superstar. He went scoreless in Tuesday’s season-ending loss and has averaged less than 20 points per game for the first time since 2014.




Earlier in the season, he was not even a starter. He relinquished that position to rookie Brandin Podziemski before reclaiming it later on. Golden State reportedly offered Thompson a two-year, $48 million contract deal last offseason. It’s difficult to picture them climbing any higher with Podziemski waiting in the wings to replace him. Thompson has stated that he is willing to take on a lower role in order to remain with Golden State. A smaller role does not always mean a smaller deal.

Thompson will definitely not command another max contract in his current state, but the market is ripe for him to receive a substantial chunk of change. Grayson Allen recently re-upped in Phoenix for $70 million over four years, creating a market for shooters earning $20 million per year. Thompson will face less competition in free agency now that Allen has left the market. Malik Monk’s injury may do the same. Without another spectacular postseason performance, he appears to be more likely to re-sign with Sacramento under Early Bird Rights.




This summer, seven teams expect to have $20 million or more in cap room. Most of them may benefit from shooting. If Monk does stay put, Thompson becomes the obvious target for anyone looking for an offensive boost. The Orlando Magic had already been linked with him.

Klay Thompson may have just played his last Warriors game - here's what might come next for the team legend
Klay Thompson may have just played his last Warriors game – here’s what might come next for the team legend

The fit is evident. The Magic have access to more over $45 million in cap space. They finished 29th in 3-point attempts and 22nd in offense this season, but their No. 3-ranked defense is more than capable of compensating for his age-related shortcomings on that end of the floor. The Magic are poised to embark on their first postseason run of this era. Experience will be critical as they try to make the transition from playoff club to legitimate contender. Thompson provides plenty of it.




Warriors

Fred VanVleet set a precedent for this type of free-agent pursuit last offseason when he signed a two-year max contract with the Houston Rockets. That contract provided the Rockets with the short-term assistance they required without exposing them to long-term danger, effectively positioning VanVleet as a bridge point guard until Amen Thompson was ready to replace him. Orlando, with a plethora of young guards in the pipeline and trade assets to acquire more later, may be considering a similar strategy. The Magic would not go to the max for Klay, but their budget space allows them to offer a shorter deal with a higher immediate cap number, making matching a deal especially difficult for Golden State.

According to Spotrac, the Warriors’ anticipated luxury tax bills over the last four seasons totaled approximately $628 million. That method is unsustainable, regardless of how much income Golden State’s shiny new facility generates. Owner Joe Lacob has stated openly that his desired strategy for next season is to avoid the luxury tax totally.




Is this feasible? Maybe, but not necessarily for the long term. The expected tax line for the coming season is $172 million. The Warriors currently have only about $134 million in contract commitments for next season. However, this only includes eight players, not counting Thompson, Chris Paul, Kevon Looney, and Gui Santos, who are not guaranteed contracts. The Warriors could fill up the roster while keeping Thompson and possibly Paul while staying below the line, but it’s difficult to see them improving significantly while doing so.

Klay Thompson may have just played his last Warriors game - here's what might come next for the team legend
Klay Thompson may have just played his last Warriors game – here’s what might come next for the team legend

More crucially, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody become extension-eligible this offseason. Kuminga’s deal alone is expected to boost Golden State’s payroll back into the stratosphere. As a result, Thompson may be unable to secure long-term funding. With both earning high-level wages in the 2025-26 season, combined with existing contracts for Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins, the Warriors would be back in the repeater tax area. Given Wiggins’ recent season and Green’s disciplinary troubles, finding a trade partner will be difficult.




In the end, it all comes down to money. Joe Lacob has had enough of it. The Chase Center generates a significant amount of revenue for the Warriors. If they are willing to pay Thompson whatever it takes to bring him back, they will most likely find a way. Would it be worthwhile for a club that finished 10th in the Western Conference?

Steve Kerr, the head coach, was part of a Chicago dynasty. He saw it end after the 1998 title, and the perpetrator was the same one who will almost certainly bring down the Warriors. “I think ultimately the reason the Bulls were broken apart was that everyone’s contract ended in 1998,” Kerr remarked on a 2005 episode of ESPN Classic’s Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame…, which focused on the end of Chicago’s dynasty. “I think it was unrealistic to expect the team to all of a sudden just say, ‘Sure, we’ll put together a $100 million payroll and try to win one more championship.'”




If one more title was on the line for Golden State, such a payroll (adjusted for inflation, of course) might be worth it. This group does not appear to have any more championships to offer. Now that even the Kings have outgrown the Warriors, the reality of the dynasty’s demise may finally sink in. Thompson may have just played his final game as a Warrior, but regardless, the end of this amazing run is approaching.




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