Klay Thompson won't rush to get back to playing in 2019-20, but he is eager handle some unfinished business.
The Warriors star tore his ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and will likely miss the majority of next season. He's in uncharted territory during a critical transitional period for Golden State.
"I knew I did something. But I've never had the severity of an ACL injury or an injury that bad," Thompson told ESPN when recounting his injury. "So me, personally, I didn't think it was that bad, initially. My adrenaline was so high being Game 6, whatever. I thought I sprained my knee; that's all I thought it was.
"But when I went back to the locker room, it swelled up a lot, didn't feel right. It's just not a good feeling when you feel helpless and the team's out there competing."
Thompson had scored a game-high 30 points before being forced to leave the contest, living up to the lethal "Game 6 Klay" persona he's taken on in recent years during the postseason. But Golden State didn't quite have enough firepower to top the Raptors without Thompson and Kevin Durant, who ruptured his Achilles in Game 5.
The Warriors ended up being closed out in a 114-110 loss and saw Durant join the Nets over the offseason. But Thompson is still focused on contributing to the Warriors teams of the future, as he signed a five-year, $190 million deal with the team in July and has had multiple specialists look at his knee.
"I've heard varying opinions about, especially medically, I don't want to rush it 'cause I want to play until I'm 38, 39, 40 years old," said the 29-year-old Thompson. "That's my plan, especially because the way I can shoot the ball. I would love to see the floor this season. I don't know when that is."
Thompson, a five-time All-Star, averaged 21.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game and shot 40.2% from beyond the arc in 2018-19. But an ACL tear can make continued excellence uncertain. Thompson acknowledged that injuries are part of the game and appreciated the Warriors' long-term commitment.
"So many great teams in history, not only basketball but all sports, have been struck by an injury bug," Thompson said. "And us, the Warriors, we were, that five-year run we had, five straight Finals, we were very lucky. We obviously had bumps in the road, but nothing as traumatic as what me and Kevin went through.
"So it was humbling, but the Warriors showed their loyalty and their respect for me, offering me that five-year deal. Jumped on that as soon as I could, just because the history with this team and the franchise it would be so hard to leave. And the feeling of, you know, unfinished business, getting that close in the Finals, or to the fourth championship — tasting it — just being out of reach.
"It's the pain of sports, but it's what keeps me motivated."