When Klay Thompson Returns to Warriors Is Question That Can't Be Answered Now

Editor's note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area's Warriors reporter, will take you inside the Dubs as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith


The NBA season is here! Last night, the Warriors opened against the Clippers in a 14-0 hole. It's tough to recover from that, even though the Warriors did get the score within four and the young guys settled in. The Clippers scored 46 points in the third quarter and won 141-122, illustrating something the Warriors will have to prioritize all season: defensive intensity.

Draymond Green left and came back with a forearm injury, and Kevon Looney missed the second half with right hamstring tightness. The health of the team could make for fragile moments this season. ...

A big story that broke earlier this week: Warriors coach Steve Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock that it's "unlikely" Klay Thompson will play this season.

Kerr mentioned April is the nine-month mark for Klay's recovery from his torn ACL. Kerr believes a year is more reasonable, based on his experience as a player with the same injury and medical advice.

Let's get specific. Klay tore his left ACL on June 13, during Game 6 of the NBA Finals. He had surgery on July 2. April 13 would mark nine months from the injury. The Warriors play that night versus Portland, and the final game of the regular season is April 15 at Sacramento. Will the Warriors be in the playoff hunt? Will Klay push to play?

Klay will want to be a part of the playoffs if the Warriors make it. I think they will, provided there are no long-term injuries to anyone else. I dislike talking about injuries. Although they're inevitable, it feels like speaking something negative into existence.

But nine months is pretty quick. And even if Klay wants to play, the medical staff will have the final say. I think the Warriors will feel good about an abundance of caution when it comes to a player whom they gave a five-year, $190 million max deal in the offseason. He's part of the bedrock of the team's long-term vision, and Klay wants to retire a Warrior. They trust each other to do right by each other.

I'm not a doctor, nor do I know the details of Klay's situation, but I will share something my physical therapist told me when I recovered from an ACL tear. The risk of re-injury is higher in that first year. Knee injuries are serious, and they can result in strength imbalances elsewhere in the body as you compensate for weakness during your recovery.

Giving Klay even more time to heal is a good thing. If he has to wait to play until next season's training camp, that's about 14 months of recovery. It's a frustrating situation for this season, but it's a positive for his health overall.

Game On!

@BobHollas What can we expect from Klay when he returns to the warriors from his injury? #AskKerith

Expect a rested, healthy, hungry Klay. The fact that the Warriors made five consecutive Finals adds up to an extra season of strenuous play on the legs. This injury means Klay is forced to take a break to recover. There's an upside to this crummy situation.

For any serious injury, don't forget the mental aspect. Klay is a mentally strong guy. He'll still have to battle boredom, frustration and longing. He has been in the mix with the team at practice, but I suspect some sadness will sink in when he's not starting alongside his teammates. No one likes to miss out.

Rehab workouts get repetitive. You cannot speed up time, either. When Klay gets through his injury and can take the court again at full strength, watch out. When something you love is taken away, your gratefulness when it returns grows tenfold.

@josh_abbs How are you liking Steph Curry as MVP this season? #AskKerith

I think it's possible, given the load Steph will have to assume. I understand why the focus is on offense for this conversation, considering Steph probably will be the biggest scorer and playmaker.

But consider the way he'll have to dial up the defense, too. Klay guarded the opponent's best player in the front court. Now there's no Klay. Last season, Steph talked about his reaching fouls. Expect attention on those and even more devotion to that side of the ball.

My philosophy for MVP is "the player who is most essential to their team's wins." Few players will be as essential across the league as Steph.

IG: @alopez95340 What's your opinion of MJ's declaration that Steph isn't a HOF yet?

@TheSFGiantsGuy Do you think Steph Curry is a HOFer?

Steph is for sure a Hall of Famer with two MVPs (one unanimously!) and three championships. But was Michael Jordan speaking on a technicality? Was there a yet in there because Steph is still an active player? Magic Johnson believes so. Here's his explanation.

Kerr had a laugh and said MJ's version of the Hall of Fame is the one in his head.

@JoeSouza8 Do you see the Warriors making a move for a big man anytime in the near future?

No. Their move was picking Marquese Chriss over Alfonzo McKinnie. Kerr said Chriss is more of a four, but they're asking him to play the five.

With Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein, plus some center-by-committee minutes from other guys, the Warriors probably are done looking for bigs and instead are turning their attention to wings.

IG @paulfreakingji What are you most excited for this season?

The newness. The need for evolution. In addition to the opening of Chase Center and the specialness of covering Year 1 in the building, I'm interested to see how the Warriors shape-shift this season to keep success alive.

Seeing how the chemistry develops and whether the Warriors can get the most out of every player is a puzzle to solve.

If the Warriors want to follow the Spurs' blueprint and sustain success, which is hard to do, this is a season in which it'll take some creativity.

IG @rray28 Favorite place you visited in the off season?

Italy! My husband and I went to Rome, Florence, Vernazza, Lake Como and Gorgonzola. Vernazza was the best part -- small and picturesque. It's a coastal city, part of the Cinque Terre.

We ate mounds of cheese and prosciutto, the freshest I've ever tasted. I'm not a big wine person, but it was flowing.

My favorite meal overall was pizza at Dar Poeta. As this review explains, "(This) pizza will make the indignity of tourism worth it." It was DELICIOUS.

My husband's parents joined us at Dar Poeta, and we ordered three bruschetta appetizers, four pizzas, two liters of wine, and chocolate mousse. The entire bill was 64 euro. That's about $72.

High Five

The Warriors got the best sports couple of all time, Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe, for a postgame panel on Oct. 30.

They'll join Hall of Famer Rick Welts on the panel, which will start about 20 minutes after the game.

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area's Warriors coverage all season.

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