The wait is finally over for Golden State Warriors star guard Klay Thompson as he will play his first NBA game in over two years. Thompson will take the floor on Sunday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite the long, challenging journey, his bank account didn’t suffer one bit.
Klay Thompson is making his long-awaited return
After an arduous recovery from two serious injuries, Thompson is making his long-anticipated return on Sunday night against the Cavaliers.
The Warriors star guard officially announced his comeback on Instagram on Saturday and later released a statement confirming he will play.
“I hate to use the phrase ‘can’t wait’ because I love to be present in my life,” Thompson said via ESPN. “But I cannot wait to play in front of our fans again. I really, really enjoy being a Warrior.”
Thompson last took the floor in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors, where he suffered a torn ACL. He missed the entire 2019-20 campaign, and was scheduled to return last season, but tore his Achilles tendon in November 2020 that forcing him to sit another full year.
Thompson will be featured in the starting lineup in limited minutes as he works his way back into form. Before he takes the floor, he slotted in a significant chunk of money while sidelined.
Klay Thompson added $85 million to his bank account in the 941 days since he last played an NBA game
The last two-plus years have been nothing short of a challenging road for Thompson.
He is attempting to overcome two serious leg injuries that have forced him to miss valuable years of his prime. However, Thompson hasn’t suffered financially over that stretch as he’s in the third campaign of his five-year, $190 million deal. He inked the contract in July 2019, weeks after tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.
The five-time All-Star earned roughly $32.7 million in the 2019-20 campaign, while he received approximately $35.3 million for the 2020-21 season despite being sidelined due to injury. Before making his long-awaited return on Sunday night against the Cavaliers, he’s missed the first 38 games of this campaign, giving him $17.6 million made before his comeback. All that rounds up to approximately $85.6 million earned since he last played in an NBA game.
It’s a figure that trumps what he made before his lucrative contract. He earned $9.8 million in his first three years under his rookie deal and the four-year, $68.9 million extension that ran through the 2018-19 campaign. It combines for roughly $78.7 million, sitting nearly $10 million less than what he made over the last two-plus seasons.
The Warriors are in no way looking at Thompson’s salary as a waste as he’s proven to be one of the league’s top players when healthy. The pressure is certainly on him to prove he’s still worth that type of money, but Golden State remains extremely confident he will recapture his previous form.
Warriors must remain patient with the process
While Thompson’s return significantly boosts the Warriors’ NBA title push, it must come with much patience.
The 31-year-old will require some time to get his legs back under him as he gets his body acclimated to playing again for the first time since June 2019. Thompson will have a firm minutes restriction for the next several weeks to become comfortable physically.
Head coach Steve Kerr recently voiced that Thompson will play between 15-to-20 minutes in his first game, which the team will work from that point. Kerr also expressed that the star guard will likely rest for back-to-back sets.
“There’s a good chance that we will rest him on back-to-backs,” Kerr said via NBC Sports Bay Area. “It’s all going to depend on how he responds to his early minutes and what Rick [Celebrini] is telling me. But I think there is a good chance we will keep him out of back-to-backs to start, but we don’t know that yet.”
It will be a feeling-out process, but it’s clear that the Warriors want to handle it as carefully as possible.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.