(NBC Sports) - "It's unlikely that he's going to play this year," Steve Kerr recently told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive interview that will air at 1 p.m. PT Tuesday in “NBA Season Tip-Off,” only on the MyTeams app. "So we have to understand that."
Thompson, who suffered the knee injury during Game 6 of the NBA Finals, had surgery July 2, and has said he hopes to play after the NBA All-Star break in February. Recent history, however, suggests that might not be possible.
Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine sat out 11 months with a similar injury, and Atlanta Hawks forward Jabari Parker missed nearly a year. Kerr, who tore his ACL in college, believes Thompson will be on the same timeline as those players.
"You have to look at it realistically," the Warriors coach said. "I had an ACL [tear] in college, and I missed a whole season. Generally, an ACL for a basketball player is a full-year recovery, and if it's a full year for Klay, that puts them out for the season.
“We've kind of left the door open in case the rehab goes perfectly and the doctors say he can go. But the reality is, on April 1, that’s the nine-month mark. ... April versus nine months post-op for an ACL.
I get it, after all the drama with Kevin Durant and the rumors that the Warriors rushed him back only to see him tear his achilles, I get the idea behind being extra cautious with Klay Thompson. He's a core part of their future moving forward and you don't exactly want to mess around with knee injuries. The rational person would think just go the BKN route and sit him for the year no matter what just to be safe. You could come out right now and say he's under no circumstances playing this season. Not "unlikely". So you may not go deep in the playoffs, you can afford to have a down year after the run you just had over the last 5 seasons.
But here's the thing. I'm not sure I'm buying it. The fact that they are going the "unlikely" route combined with that last quote about how the door is left open IF everything goes perfectly tells me that if the situation warrants it, Klay will be back. An April 1st return date would give Klay two weeks and 7 games to get his feet wet before a potential playoff series. Also who knows, maybe he's active but still doesn't play until deeper in the playoffs giving him more time. The point is, to me this is a classic tactic of giving the media more ammo for them to call the Warriors done this season so they can fully get behind the "nobody believes in us" mantra that feels silly when you're talking about a team with Steph Curry on it.
Just think of the scene. The Warriors end up like the 7th seed or something after winning close to 50 games because the West is so stacked that's simply the reality. Let's say it's a first round matchup with the Lakers or the Clippers. Klay is healthy. You don't think the Warriors are unleashing that ace up their sleeve for a playoff series and potential upset? That's why I've been firm in not declaring them dead, because I truly think they're going to enter the playoffs as a lower seed, add a healthy Klay to the mix and be just as devastating as we've come to expect from them in a playoff series.
The smart move long term may be to 100% sit Klay for the entire season no matter what, even if doctors clear him. I think we can all agree on that. But I'm not buying this notion that we most likely won't be seeing Klay Thompson at any point this season. History is mixed, with guys like Ricky Rubio, Lou Williams, Nate Robinson, JJ Hickson, all came back in 9 months or less, where guys like Rondo, Porzingis, Dante Exum, Jarret Jack, Gallo, all took their time and were out basically a year from when it happened. It's a tricky situation where everyone's different, but my money is on Klay playing in a playoff series, I don't care what Kerr says.
Need this back in my life ASAP as a basketball fan