The Golden State Warriors currently sit on top of the Western Conference by one game, all with DeMarcus Cousins still sidelined. They play defending back-to-back titles, but several of their key stars hit free agency in summer 2019. The team’s catch-and-shoot extraordinaire Klay Thompson will become a free agent.
If Thompson makes an All-NBA team this season, he can receive a five-year, $219 million super max contract from Golden State. Without the award, the organization could offer him a five-year, $188 million contract.
Other teams could offer him a max of four years and $139.3 million, which is precisely what the Lakers should do in order to try to lure Thompson away from Golden State. Joining LeBron James on the Lakers next summer would put the team in serious conversations about title contention.
Spot-up shooters have a way of thriving with James, who has played with some impressive marksmen over his 15-year career. Kyle Korver and Ray Allen are just a couple of the three point specialists who have made deep playoff runs on James’ teams. Joining the pacy Lakers squad would give Klay Thompson clean looks early in the shot clock, capitalizing on his ability to quickly catch and shoot.
The Lakers have improved from three point range since the arrival of LeBron James, but the presence of a sharpshooter like Thompson spaces the floor in a way that only a few players can. The Lakers are missing another star player to put around James, and James has played with an all-star teammate since 2010. That formula has arguably allowed him to remain competitive in the postseason, as he has not lost before the NBA Finals since.
Lakers fans would salivate at the opportunity to damage the Warriors by taking away one of their deadliest shooters, while at the same time adding to their own team. Would the swing be enough to topple the former champions?
Golden State still possesses loads of All-NBA talent, and Thompson is arguably not even in their top three players (depends on how Cousins comes back), despite his hand-in-glove fit in the system. If Cousins plays well enough, then Golden State may decide to sign him to a long-term contract. Kevin Durant needs to be resigned as well, and these moves could cause complications in negotiations with Thompson.
While obtaining Klay Thompson would give the Lakers a better chance, the Warriors would likely still sit on top of the Western Conference next year and still be favored in a seven game series.
Besides, if Golden State manages to win a three-peat, then it’s hard to imagine any of their players walking away from the first chance at a four-peat in over four decades, even if it requires taking a pay cut. It’s the kind of basketball dominance that fans thought died with black and white television sets. With DeMarcus Cousins set to debut Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers, who knows how much better they can get?