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SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors watches from the bench during the second quarter of their NBA play-in tournament game against the Sacramento Kings at the Golden One Center in Sacramento, California on Tuesday, April 16, 2023. (Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images)

Warriors fans have had plenty of reasons to expect Klay Thompson to leave over the past few months, but on Saturday that possibility became very real when The Athletic reported that the team is preparing for Thompson’s departure.

The Warriors have reportedly had almost no communication over the past two weeks when they had time to exclusively negotiate his return, and both sides now believe Thompson’s tenure in the Bay Area is over.

Thompson himself had already issued a clear warning by deleting all mentions of the Warriors from his social media.

Thompson becomes a free agent for the first time in his 13-year career on Sunday, and the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks are reportedly major suitors for his talent. All three teams are looking to compete next season and could use more three-point shooting. Several other teams with salary space are also reportedly interested.

Both the Lakers and Mavericks can offer Thompson the mid-level exception of $12.9 million, with LeBron James apparently willing to accept less to help the Lakers. The Warriors are also reportedly willing to facilitate a sign-and-trade.

No matter how Thompson’s time with the Warriors ends, his status as a pillar of a dynasty cannot be changed.

Owning four championship rings doesn’t even begin to describe Thompson’s full impact. Alongside Stephen Curry, Thompson was one half of one of the best backcourts in NBA history, with the Splash Brothers sparking a 3-point shooting revolution in the NBA.

Thompson ranks sixth on the NBA’s all-time list of three-pointers made, behind Curry, Ray Allen, James Harden, Damian Lillard and Reggie Miller, despite never being his own team’s best shooter. Along with Curry and Harden, he is one of only three players to make more than 300 three-pointers in a single season.

And of course, he still holds the record for most three-pointers made in a single game with 14, not to mention the record for most consecutive three-pointers made.

At his best, Thompson was capable of unstoppable offense like few others in NBA history. However, his health has been a major issue for him since 2019, when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament. A torn Achilles followed in 2020, leading to a two-and-a-half-year layoff. He recovered enough to play a key role in the Warriors’ championship in 2022, but it was very clear that the Warriors were not going to give him another big contract at age 34.

So Thompson appears to be on his way out. Any departure will likely be temporary, as he will surely be inducted into the Hall of Fame when his career is over and will spend the rest of his life as a Warriors legend.

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