Klay Thompson’s injury hit everyone associated with the Warriors like a ton of bricks. Thompson is one of the most universally loved players in the NBA and was set to finally make his return after tearing his ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals.
The torn right Achilles will set Thompson off on another grueling rehab journey, one that likely will see him out until next December or January. News of Thompson’s injury was a gut punch to everyone. It was especially painful for owner Joe Lacob, but he is sure Thompson will be able to persevere through another horrible injury.
“It’s just personally really devastating,” Lacob told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami. “And I feel really bad for him. But as I told him this morning, ‘You’ve got to persevere. You’ve gotta get through it.’ He will. He’s still a very young man. He’s got a lot of basketball left in him. He will recover from this and his job is waiting for him when he returns. I would like him to spend as much as he can with the team and his teammates. And even with me. I offered that up. I said stay involved. Because it’s going to be tough for him to get through this and we all know that.”
Thompson was at the peak of his basketball powers when he went down in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. He was doing everything at an elite level and clearly was set up to take another leap entering his Year 29 season.
The torn ACL took that away from him. A year of rehab and the pandemic hiatus saw Thompson wait 17 months to get back on the court. He was a month away from returning to the NBA, ready to silence all of the Warriors’ critics. The torn Achilles will cost him his Age 30 season.
When he returns to the court, it will likely be around 28-29 months since he last played at the highest level. That’s an excruciating break for one of the best two-way players in the league and a huge blow to both the Warriors and the NBA.
With Thompson injured again, the Warriors had to draw up a new plan to vault back into contention this season. They stayed the course and drafted James Wiseman, the No. 1 player on their board and someone Lacob believes is a “once-in-a-decade” player. They then used their $17.2 million trade exception to swing a deal for 24-year-old athletic wing Kelly Oubre Jr. to start patching up the hole Thompson will leave in their lineup.
The Warriors are pushing forward, looking to contend for an NBA title. That’s all that matters.
But Thompson won’t be far from their mind. And when he returns, the Warriors can finally reintroduce themselves to the NBA.