close
close

Klay Thompson free agency rumors: 5 potential destinations

Has Klay Thompson played his last game for the Golden State Warriors?

It seems hard to imagine that Thompson — a five-time All-Star and fixture of the NBA’s greatest modern dynasty — could leave the team that drafted him No. 11 overall in 2011. But the 34-year-old guard plans to become a free agent this summer after his worst season in a decade.

After scoring zero points in 32 minutes in the Warriors’ 118–94 loss to the Sacramento Kings in the Play-In Tournament, Thompson was as nostalgic as he was dismissive about the potential end of his Golden State tenure:

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium did just that reported for months that Thompson and the Warriors are at odds over a potential extension, and all signs point to the former All-NBA guard testing the market in free agency.

If he does, here are five potential destinations for Thompson as we look ahead to NBA free agency.

Orlando magic

The Magic were a popular name for Thompson even before his season officially ended, as he would be a perfect fit for one of the youngest teams in the NBA.

Orlando ranked in the bottom 10 in virtually every scoring metric this season — including dead last in 3s made per game — but boasted one of the league’s best defenses with plenty of size and athleticism. Although he has clearly lost a step in that department, Thompson (6-foot-1) would be a natural fit along the perimeter and would likely have the green light to dart into the twilight of his career at will.

Also, the Magic project had a whopping $60 million in cap space, and they won more games (47) than the Warriors (46) in 2023-2024. There’s a reason why Orlando is the unofficial betting favorite at some offshore sportsbooks. It doesn’t hurt that Florida has no income tax either.

Dallas Mavericks

Shortly after the Warriors’ play-in loss on Tuesday, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that the Mavericks were “worth a look” as a potential landing spot for Thompson.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed this team over the years, as Dallas owner Mark Cuban has long coveted big names in free agency and is always looking for elite offensive talent to complement superstar Luka Doncic.

The biggest question here is logistics. It seems unlikely that the Mavericks could clear enough cap space to sign Thompson — who could command between $20 million and $25 million annually — so they would have to get the Warriors to play around with a potential sign-and-trade.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Eight years ago, Thompson ripped out the Thunder’s heart in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, ultimately leading to franchise icon Kevin Durant leaving for Golden State a month later in the 2016 offseason.

Could Oklahoma City force Thompson to switch sides this summer? The Thunder should be able to generate well over $35 million in cap space to bolster a core of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams.

What this team really needs is outside shooting, which is the central appeal of signing Thompson. There may be better uses for OKC’s cap space, but keep an eye on this combination.

Los Angeles Lakers

When Thompson is available, you can always expect the Lakers — where his father, Mychal Thompson, played from 1987 to 1991 — to emerge as a possible destination.

From a strictly basketball perspective, there is some logic to it. Los Angeles ranked 24th in 3-pointers made per game last season (11.8), and more than 25% of that production came from D’Angelo Russell, who has an $18.7 million player option for 2024-2025.

Even if he opts out, the Lakers still wouldn’t have enough cap space to sign Thompson, so this would likely require a sign-and-trade. However, don’t rule this out completely.

Warriors of the Golden State

A few weeks ago, Thompson said he wanted to become a “warrior for life.” General Manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. and head coach Steve Kerr have both expressed the same sentiment in the days since the season ended.

That certainly wasn’t the vibe of Thompson’s season-ending press conference, though, when he said it was “up to them” whether he returned and that it was “all gravy” regardless of his free result.

That came hours after he said he wouldn’t be “salty” about his Warriors term when it expires this summer:

Emotions aside, the Warrior’s salary obligations for next season ($174 million) already exceed the first luxury tax threshold ($171.3 million), and re-signing Thompson would likely put this team over the “second apron” of $189.6 million to take.

Is it worth paying a historic luxury tax bill to keep Thompson after he finishes the season? Ultimately, a reunion still feels like the most likely outcome given Golden State’s commitment to its core trio over the years, but don’t be shocked if Warriors ownership prioritizes practicality over sentimentality.