Leandro Barbosa hopes Klay Thompson will prioritize happiness in free agency – NBC Sports Bay Area & California

OAKLAND — Klay Thompson has made countless friends during his NBA career, and one of them, Leandro Barbosa, has one wish for the longtime Warriors star as he approaches unrestricted free agency.

“He needs to be happy,” Barbosa told NBC Sports Bay Area over the weekend. “This is the most important thing.”

The Barbosa-Thompson friendship developed over the two years they spent as teammates in Golden State, starting in 2014. They spent personal time together, whether working out in the offseason or visiting an amusement park on the road. Barbossa was on Thompson’s boat and to his home.

Furthermore, Clay refers to Barbossa, a Brazilian national, as “hermano”, meaning brother in Spanish.

In this case that would be “Big Brother”. Barbosa, 41, now an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings, is roughly eight years older than Thompson. This may be why he is willing to offer advice on the most important decision in his friend’s career.

“He’s going to have to be really patient,” Barbosa said. “Hopefully he comes back to the Warriors. I don’t know what the situation is, but it’s going to be tough. I know the money (in NBA contracts) is going up, and he was thinking about the money.”

“But I think he needs to be happy. I think that’s the most important thing.”

Of Golden State’s veteran players — Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Thompson — Klay is the least expected of all. The freest soul. As a bachelor, he can follow his heart. Unlike Carey and Thompson, there is no wife and children to consider.

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And yes, Barbosa is aware of the chatter that escalated last week when Thompson reportedly unfollowed the Warriors on social media. It’s a common tactic by professional athletes seeking a contract, and it hasn’t bothered anyone within Golden State’s orbit.

Curry and Thompson have established themselves as the best offensive backcourt in NBA history and are on the short list of those considered to be the best overall backcourt of all time.

“At the end of the day, they are still friends,” Barbosa said. “They’re brothers, like the Splash Brothers. We started this together and I was there. I know who he is.”

As much as Thompson was drafted by Golden State in 2011, the Warriors are the only NBA family he has ever known. He was crucial to the franchise’s rise from the dungeon to the penthouse. Those slams are important, and they always will be.

But don’t think for a moment that Clay won’t be fascinated by a new adventure. From the moment extension talks ended last summer, the expectation was that he would explore the market.

If the dollar is a priority, other teams would likely be willing to pass on any offer from Golden State.

Barbosa, who has always been outspoken, also acknowledges what became evident in Thompson’s play last season.

“Clay is not what he used to be,” Barbosa said. “So, it will be a difficult process for him from now on.

Gone are the days when Thompson was among the best wings in the NBA, a defensive team pick whose exceptional shooting was the basis for five straight trips to the All-Star Game. He can still hit 30 or 40 goals on a given night, but his frequency and efficiency have declined, as has his defensive versatility.

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For these reasons, Thompson knows he will never see anything like his expiring contract, a five-year, $190 million max contract. League sources indicate he is seeking a minimum three-year offer.

“If he goes to a different team – and I’m just offering this scenario – he will have to start all over again,” Barbosa said. “If he stays, this is his home. This is his home.”

“So, I hope he kind of thinks and understands the business, what the deal is, and goes from there.”

Barbosa’s first two seasons with the Warriors ended with a win in the 2015 NBA Finals. His second season ended with a league-record 73 wins, but he suffered a stunning loss in the Finals. After his final NBA season with the Phoenix Suns, who acquired him in the draft in 2003, Barbosa returned to the NBA in 2020 as a “player mentor” coach for the Warriors.

Coach Steve Kerr, who was aware of Barbosa and Thompson’s relationship, designated LB to reunite with Clay, who was rehabilitating following surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Their friendship lasts. Although Thompson alone will make the final decision about his future in basketball, he is among those whose voice he respects.

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