While Klay Thompson gears up for Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Oakland, the city of Philadelphia is clamoring for his services.
After his current shooting struggles continued in the opening game of the Finals, Thompson looks increasingly like the player whose game is most affected by the addition of Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors. As a result, the speculation by Philadelphia media about Thompson’s fit on the Sixers kicked into an extra gear.
On the Philadelphia ESPN radio affiliate, 97.5 The Fantatic, afternoon radio host Mike Missanelli had Mychal Thompson — former No. 1 overall draft pick and Klay’s father — on the air Friday afternoon to discuss his son’s potential future. And dad gushed about the budding core in Philadelphia.
“Yes, Sam Hinkie was right,” Thompson told Missanelli. “The talent that he amassed there with Ben (Simmons) and Joel (Embiid), as long as those two guys stay healthy Philadelphia is the team of the future in the Eastern Conference. No doubt about that. They’re going to be better than Washington, better than Atlanta, better than Toronto. Love that roster that you have there in Philly right now.”
While the praising of the young Sixers cornerstone players was nice and hopeful, it’s what the elder Thompson said next that brings home the idea of adding a player like his son to the Philadelphia roster.
“Now all you guys need is one shooter,” Thompson said. “One guy that has the winning background as a shooter, and I got the guy for you, the guy you can have. And his name is J.J. Redick.”
Thompson’s father continued on by mentioning his son is currently in “basketball heaven” and would see no reason to leave. Realistically, he’s probably right. The Warriors are in their third straight Finals and look poised to win their second championship. But with the addition of Durant, something isn’t clicking for Thompson this postseason. Shooting just 36.6 percent from the field and 33.8 percent from beyond the arc, the sharpshooting two-guard certainly doesn’t look like himself.
Which is why regardless of the Finals outcome, Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo should hop on the phones and seriously see what it would take to bring Thompson to Philadelphia.
As the elder Thompson stated, the construction of Philadelphia’s roster seems to be an established shooter away from taking the next step out of the NBA’s basement. With a ball-dominant player that possesses an uncanny knack for finding the open man in Simmons, and a monster on the block that almost surely needs to be double-teamed or at the very least draws weak side help in Embiid, the Sixers’ offense is set up from the inside out to benefit someone who can step in and knock down shots at an elite level.
But what’s different about Thompson than someone like Redick, or signing Kyle Lowry, is that bringing him on board wouldn’t disrupt the timeline of The Process. At just 27 years old, Thompson is on the cusp of his prime. Redick and Lowry are 32 and 31, respectively. Along with their advanced age, they’re going to command longer deals than maybe their continued high level of play is worth. Under contract for the next two seasons at $17.8 and $18.9 million, Thompson’s cap situation isn’t nearly as complicated as some other guard options for the Sixers.
Looking past the money and age, Thompson is also the perfect defensive complement for Simmons, who is expected to play point guard on offense. One of the league’s premier wing defenders, Thompson already gets the assignment of the guarding opposing team’s most dangerous player. During Game 1 of the Finals, Cleveland Cavaliers guarded by Thompson made just one shot. Athleticism can deteriorate a basketball player’s effectiveness on the court, but traits like a pretty shooting stroke and defensive positioning don’t vanish rapidly with father time. That point alone makes Thompson the most attractive option to bring on board in Philadelphia, as he would truly be able to grow with their young core.
However, a player of Thompson’s caliber — three-time All-Star and career 42 percent three-point shooter — won’t be bought cheap, if he can even be bought at all.
A deal for Golden State’s third shooter would most certainly be centered around Philadelphia’s No. 3 pick in the upcoming draft. Along with that pick, another high-value draft asset — potentially the 2018 Los Angeles Lakers unprotected pick, or the 2019 Sacramento Kings unprotected pick — would have to enter the conversation. But to fully get the attention of the juggernaut Warriors, a play now player would most certainly be involved in negotiations — probably a player like Dario Saric given his ability to run their second unit and act as an understudy to the jack-of-all-trades king in Draymond Green.
There’s no guarantee, however, that Golden State even entertains this possibility. But there is a reason to believe the move is plausible.
The Warriors will soon be faced with the decision of handing max contracts to both Durant and Steph Curry, locking down their cap situation pretty tight. So, securing a player like Green, who is more versatile on the court as opposed to having another shooter like Thompson, would make sense from a logistics standpoint. On top of that, getting a player like Saric in return on a rookie deal for the next three seasons grants Golden State some cap flexibility. That same notion goes for whichever player they would wind up selecting with the third pick — Josh Jackson’s perimeter defense and run-and-gun style of play would seem to fit nicely.
What is a guarantee though, is that Colangelo will have no clue what Golden State’s level of interest is if he never picks up the phone, and Thompson’s potential fit in Philadelphia is worth much more than a phone call.
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