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What’s next for Warriors? Klay Thompson “open” to testing the free agent market, Chris Paul is not retiring

Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings – Play-In Tournament

What has been increasingly clear for more than a year came into sharp focus Tuesday night as the Kings bounced the Warriors out of the playoffs: If Golden State wants to maximize Stephen Curry’s remaining years and pursue another ring – and they do – then schedule changes are necessary.

That could mean Klay Thompson and Chris Paul will appear in different uniforms next season.

Thompson would be the shocker – he, Curry and Draymond Green are the favored core of four championship teams in Golden State. It would be weird to see him in another uniform. Although Curry and Green are still under contract for a few years, Thompson will be a free agent this summer.

“We need Klay back…” coach Steve Kerr said after the Warriors loss, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “I know I speak for everyone in the organization. We want him back. There are clearly issues going on and they need to be discussed with Klay’s representatives… as good as he is, we really want him back. “

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What the Warriors need most is a second shot creator to take the pressure off Curry, a role Klay Thompson always filled at the All-Star level, plus he was an elite defender. However, two major injuries (ACL and Achilles) and a few years later Thompson is no longer that guy. He remains a quality NBA player who can shoot off the rocks and is averaging 17.9 points per game this season while shooting 38.7% from 3. He’s had big games this season, but he’s also had clunkers, like the 0-of-10 shooting against the Kings on Tuesday.

As always, it will come down to money. What is Thompson worth to a team trying to reduce its tax bill, which is already $174 million for next season — $3 million in luxury taxes — without considering Thompson or Gary Payton’s player option? Or just fill in the schedule. Would the Warriors offer something in the range of $18-$20 million per season, solid starter money, and would Thompson be willing to accept? What would he do if Orlando or another team over-the-top came in with a bigger offer? Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that Thompson is open to exploring the market.

The expectation in league circles is that Thompson will eventually re-sign with the Warriors, but things aren’t so clear with Chris Paul.

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What we do know is that Paul has no plans to retire. He told Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

“I’ll talk to my wife and my kids, my family and my support system, see what it looks like,” Paul told The Athletic. “But this is not (the end of my career). I’m sure.”

Paul is probably done with the Warriors. He won’t make anywhere near the $30 million he made this season, but for a Warriors team looking to trim payroll, point guard is a good place to do so. Paul is still a quality overall point guard and veteran leader that some teams may want to bring in to supplement their rosters and be willing to pay more than the Warriors for the position. There’s a lot at play – Paul’s family lives on the West Coast and he’d prefer to stay close – but when it comes to money, there may be more to CP3 outside the Bay Area than within it.

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Whatever happens this summer, unless Joe Lacob is willing to pay for a reunion tour of a good but not great team — which is what we’ve seen from Golden State this season — there will be big changes.

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