Bob Myers called Stephen Curry to break the devastating news that Klay Thompson had torn his Achilles’ and would miss another season. Silence on the other end.
Myers, the Golden State general manager, made the same call to Draymond Green. Again, only quiet.
Thompson, 30, tore his right Achilles’ tendon playing in a pickup game Wednesday and had an MRI Thursday in Los Angeles that revealed the severity of the injury that typically requires surgery. Right after Thompson worked himself back from knee surgery in early July 2019, now this, another year on the sideline.
The Warriors aren’t ready to say what the next steps are for Thompson until they know more.
“What hurts the most — and speaking on behalf of Klay, we will move on and we will be OK and he will be OK — but what hurts the most is the time we put into our jobs, the sacrifices we make to do what we do and to do what he does,’' Myers said. “And for him to have to now not be able to play basketball, that’s the pain. That’s the pain we feel, the pain we feel for him.”
Dear friend and former teammate Zaza Pachulia spoke to Thompson and assured him he would endure this, and offered some perspective that things could be far worse as they currently are around the world during this pandemic.
Thompson’s passion for basketball is clear. Myers spoke to Curry’s Splash Brother on Thursday and mentioned that very thing: telling Thompson he senses “basketball is for you air and water, you have to have it.”
“Nobody deserves this. Like I said, nobody deserves anything like this that befalls them,’' Myers said. ’'But this is a guy that loves basketball, bleeds basketball.”
The injury is a huge blow for the Warriors, who were an NBA-worst 15-50 last season as they struggled without Thompson and at times without Curry as he nursed a broken left hand that sidelined him for more than four months.
Thompson didn’t play at all during the coronavirus-shortened season as he worked back from surgery for a torn ACL in his left knee. He suffered that injury in the deciding Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.
Myers said Thompson’s injury had Golden State considering altering its draft decisions Wednesday night, but the Warriors stuck with their plan to select Memphis center James Wiseman at No. 2.
Clippers add Kennard
The Los Angeles Clippers acquired guard Luke Kennard from Detroit, and sent guards Landry Shamet to Brooklyn and Rodney McGruder to Detroit as they attempt to improve the supporting cast around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
In addition to Kennard, the Clippers received center Justin Patton from the Pistons in the draft-night deal, as well as the draft rights to junior-college player Jay Scrubb and four second-round picks (2023 via Portland, and 2024, 2025 and 2026 via Detroit).
’'The draft assets allow us the opportunity to continue drafting and developing young talent, or otherwise explore trade opportunities, for years to come,” Lawrence Frank, Clippers president of basketball operations, said Thursday in confirming the moves.
Scramble set to begin
NBA free agency is usually a weeklong frenzy. Deals get struck, then teams and players must wait a few days before they can sign those contracts. And from there, a few more months often pass before the player goes to work with his new club.
Not this year.
What promises to be a chaotic free agent window opens in the NBA at 6 p.m. Friday, just a couple days after the NBA Draft, a mere 42 hours before signings can begin, and about a week and a half before training camps around the league open. Asked what the player-movement landscape might look like in such a compressed timeframe, Philadelphia 76ers president Daryl Morey — looking exhausted early Thursday as the draft was winding down — offered a blunt prediction.
“Completely insane,” Morey said.
He may be right.
Deals are expected to start coming quickly Friday evening, and the NBA is investigating whether one — a widely reported sign-and-trade move that would have sent Bogdan Bogdanovic from Sacramento to Milwaukee — happened earlier than league rules allow. A person with knowledge of the matter told the Associated Press on Thursday that the league is probing whether such an agreement existed, because if it did free agent negotiations with Bogdanovic would have clearly started earlier than permissible.
The person spoke with AP on condition of anonymity because neither the teams nor the league acknowledged the investigation publicly.
Some deals likely won’t take long to get done without raising league ire. Anthony Davis of the NBA champion Lakers is the biggest name on the free agency board; he turned down his option for this season with the Lakers but isn’t expected to go anyplace else.
A likely scenario for Davis is to accept a three-year deal worth would start at $32.7 million this season and grow each year afterward, with the last year at his option. That way, when he completes his 10th year of service in 2021-22, he can cash in for an even higher percentage of the salary cap. than he would command now.
More than 100 NBA players are unrestricted free agents; another 75 or so can be restricted free agents. That’s a lot of players, who might be doing a lot of moving, with a season coming up very quickly — and only a few teams have plenty of available salary-cap space to sign players easily.
Plus, teams are still figuring out coronavirus protocols for training camp. Nobody has seen the NBA schedule for a regular season that starts Dec. 22. Preseason games start Dec. 11; those haven’t even been announced yet.
Knicks clear cap space
The Knicks waived veterans Elfrid Payton, Taj Gibson, and Wayne Ellington and declined their team option on Bobby Portis, just a year after signing them in free agency. New York signed all the veterans as part of a seven-player class in the summer of 2019. The moves have them well-positioned for free agency. Portis’s option would have paid him $15.8 million in 2020-21. Gibson was due $9.5 million, and Ellington and Payton were each set to earn $8 million . . . Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. is opting in at $19 million for the final year of his contract with the Mavericks, while center Willie Cauley-Stein is moving on after declining his $2.3 million option . . . The Hawks agreed to trade center Dewayne Dedmon to the Pistons for guards Tony Snell and Khyri Thomas, a person with knowledge of the situation said. The deal allows the Hawks to clear a logjam at center after they selected center Onyeka Okongwu from Southern Cal with the No. 6 pick of the draft Wednesday night.