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Klay Thompson looking to be re-energized with Mavericks: ‘Sometimes breakups are necessary’


DALLAS — While growing up near Portland, Ore., Klay Thompson still vividly remembers the “biggest day of his life” was when Scottie Pippen joined his hometown Trail Blazers. While Pippen had left the Chicago Bulls one year prior, he arrived in Portland as an acclaimed 34-year-old future Hall of Famer with multiple championships.

“I’m not saying I’m Scottie,” said Thompson, speaking Tuesday for the first time as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. “(But) I take a lot of inspiration from past athletes and how their careers might’ve gone astray when they either left the team or joined a new team. Some guys thrive, and I look forward to just being rejuvenated here and playing. (There’s) a lot — a lot — of basketball left in the tank.”

Thompson’s exit from the Golden State Warriors after 13 seasons had been foreshadowed for months, but it wasn’t until the past few weeks that Thompson finally embraced it as a reality. According to reporting from The Athletic, the contracts he pitched to the Warriors after the season went unanswered as the organization prioritized other team-building opportunities.

“I was a little disappointed at first,” Thompson said.

But once he determined he wouldn’t return to the team that drafted him, there was excitement that came from the chance at a new opportunity.“I’m very grateful for my time at Golden State,” Thompson said. “But I just felt like moving on can just reenergize me and do something special for the rest of my career.”

Thompson added, “sometimes breakups are necessary to do what’s right.”

Once he determined he wouldn’t return to the team that drafted him, his new home was an obvious choice. It was in Dallas with the Mavericks, a team he was drawn to while watching their run to last month’s NBA Finals.

“Dallas was so attracted because of the young players,” Thompson said. “When I’m watching the Mavs make their run for the championship, I just saw myself fitting in really well with this team and the personnel. They look like they have fun playing with each other. They played for each other and that was very attractive for me. That’s really all I needed to see. There was mutual interest there, and that’s why I’m here.”

Stephen Curry, the other half of the duo that was the Splash Brothers, said earlier this week he hoped to see joy return to Thompson’s game. “There were times last year where it wasn’t as joyful it had been in the past,” Thompson acknowledged.

One person who helped convince Thompson that Dallas was the right place for a rebirth was Kyrie Irving, who notably reshaped his public image while fully embracing the city as his home after re-signing with the Mavericks last summer.

“(Kyrie) actually was one of the first people to text me just how grateful he (is) to be here and how the city’s embraced him, the organization embraced him,” said Thompson, who twice played against Irving in the NBA Finals and has also been his teammate on Team USA. “For him to come here and embrace the city and embrace the role, he has just inspired me.”

In choosing Dallas, Thompson turned down interest from one of the league’s glamor franchises, the Los Angeles Lakers, who also made a competitive offer to sign him. It was a disappointment to Thompson’s father, Mychal, who won two championships playing for the Lakers and is now employed by the team as a radio analyst. “I’m not feeling too much in a congratulatory mood right now,” the elder Thompson told SiriusXM NBA radio last week, making it clear he hoped his son would sign with the franchise most special to him.

“Yeah, my dad was disappointed,” Thompson said. “But at the end of the day, he was happy for me. He was a little selfish in his business interest because he wanted me at home with the family. I was like, ‘Dad, I’ve been in California my whole life. I got to experience something new.’ So he understood and he’s actually really excited for me and he thinks we have a great shot to do something special here.”

Thompson also received confidence in his decision to sign with the Mavericks from Michael Finley, the team’s assistant general manager who left the Mavericks during his playing career while in his 30s. When Thompson met with Finley and general manager Nico Harrison on the opening night of free agency before making his final decision, he ended up peppering Finley with questions about his playing career, as The Athletic detailed last week.

Now, Thompson has an opportunity to play next to Irving and Luka Dončić, the latter of which texted Thompson to convey his excitement. Dončić has created more open 3s for his teammates than any other player in the league.

“I don’t think you can stick to me (with) guys like Luka and Kai out there as much as you could in the past,” Thompson said.

It’s not hard to see how it’ll translate. After all, Thompson said, “you still can’t leave me open.”

(Top photo: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)

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