AP Basketball Writer
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors saw no reason to wait on securing Klay Thompson’s future with the franchise.
The Warriors signed Thompson to a four-year maximum contract extension worth about $70 million on Friday, a person with knowledge of the deal said.
The person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team does not disclose terms, also said there is no opt-out clause for either side. The contract will keep Thompson with the team through the 2018-19 season.
The Warriors confirmed a multiyear deal with Thompson. It was the final day for Thompson and the team to get a deal done or the shooting guard could become a restricted free agent next summer, when the Warriors would have had an opportunity to match any offer sheet he signed.
Golden State decided not to risk the relationship turning sour in restricted free agency or another team putting a clause in an offer sheet that might’ve made it difficult to match. And Thompson and his agent, Bill Duffy, got what they wanted all along: a maximum deal and financial security now.
“It’s hard for me to express how excited and happy I am to know that I will be playing in front of the best fans in the NBA for a long time,” Thompson said in a statement. “This team, under this ownership group and with this collection of players, has an incredibly bright future. I could not ask for a better situation and am extremely thankful.”
Warriors general manager Bob Myers and Thompson will hold a news conference to formally announce the deal before Saturday night’s home opener against the Los Angeles Lakers. In a statement, Myers also praised ownership’s commitment to winning and said the team is “excited to have one of the top young players in the NBA under contract for the next several years.”
Golden State drafted Thompson out of Washington State with the 11th overall pick in 2011. He has become one of the NBA’s top two-way guards and teamed with fellow “Splash Brothers” star Stephen Curry to form one of the league’s best backcourts.
Thompson averaged 18.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists last season, helping the Warriors reach the playoffs for the second straight year. He shot 44.4 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from 3-point range.
Curry congratulated Thompson for the extension on Twitter, writing: “Splash bros continue.”
The Warriors decided to build around the tandem when they refused to include Thompson in any trade talks with Minnesota for Kevin Love this offseason, believing all along that he and Curry could carry them to a title on their streaky shooting strokes. Thompson began to validate the decision over the summer, dazzling during the FIBA World Cup in Spain to help the U.S. win gold.
The payday will put more expectations on Thompson, especially with fans still split about losing Love to Cleveland, but he appears ready for the challenge.
Thompson led the Warriors with 21.7 points per game in the preseason, shooting 50.9 percent from the floor, including 50 percent from beyond the arc. He also scored 19 points in Golden State’s season-opening 95-77 win at Sacramento on Wednesday night.
First-year coach Steve Kerr, a former NBA player and general manager with the Phoenix Suns, said before the extension was announced that Thompson never looked affected by the negotiations.
“It can definitely affect a player to think about all that stuff, worry about injury, whatever. I’m pretty confident in Klay that he’s just going to play,” Kerr said.
Thompson’s contributions go beyond shooting and scoring.
At 6-foot-7 and 215 pounds, the lengthy Thompson often defends the other team’s best guard. That includes covering everybody from the Clippers’ Chris Paul to Lakers star Kobe Bryant, taking pressure off teammates on the perimeter, most notably the undersized Curry.
Myers made extending Thompson’s contract one of his top offseason priorities, and he predicted from the get-go that it could go right up to the deadline.
The Warriors were also trying to balance Thompson’s needs with their own payroll concerns. After all, the team will be facing similar scenarios with Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli next year and has increasingly less room to wiggle under the salary cap with its current roster.
Thompson’s deal eclipses the contract Curry signed prior to the 2012-13 season when he was due for an extension.
Golden State signed Curry to a $44 million, four-year extension on Oct. 31, 2012. Curry, who started his first All-Star Game for the Western Conference last season, was coming off a second surgery on his right ankle in as many years that summer, and questions persisted about his durability.
That risk worked out well for the Warriors. Curry’s contract has become one of the league’s best bargains, and Golden State is banking on Thompson’s talents to evolve in much the same way now, especially with the league’s next television deal widely expected to increase player salaries.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP
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