Why the Clippers must avoid signing Klay Thompson at all costs

The Clippers are at a crossroads, but they should be careful to avoid biting on Thompson.
Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

With free agency looming, the LA Clippers must resist prioritizing name value over players who could improve the squad's on-court production.

Even if a combination of Paul George and James Harden decide to take their talents elsewhere in free agency, the franchise won't simply roll over and accept defeat. With Kawhi Leonard locked up long-term, the focus will shift to retooling on the fly and attempting to build a viable contender. While trading for a disgruntled star would be ideal, the team can look at the open market in the interim.

One name the franchise looks to be eyeing is future Hall-of-Famer Klay Thompson. After months of failed negotiations with the Golden State Warriors, Thompson will allegedly depart the club after over a decade-long tenure. According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, the Clippers are likely to be among the strong suitors for the 34-year-old sharpshooter (subscription required).

Even with his mountain of accolades, Thompson doesn't seem to get enough credit for being incredible at his peak. Everyone knows him as one-half of the "splash brothers" with Stephen Curry, but few remember his two-way excellence.

The Clippers must steer clear of Klay Thompson

Offensively, his movement brought defenses to their knees. He is one of the best in league history at darting off screens, needing just milliseconds to square his shoulders and bring the ball up to his head. Thompson's movement shooting was unbelievable, and he is in the rare class of guys where no matter what shot he launched, it always seemed like it would find the bottom of the net. 

He was also a menace defensively, utilizing his lanky 6-foot-6 frame to his advantage. Thompson had the foot speed to keep up with smaller guards and the size to check larger wings. Whereas Draymond Green often gets credit for anchoring the Warriors' defense throughout their dynasty, Thompson was the head of the snake, protecting the perimeter. 

Between natural aging and a multitude of lower-body injuries, those elite traits have largely vanished. Although the shooting touch hasn't completely deteriorated, Thompson offers almost nothing from inside the arc. His speed has completely eroded, making him a defensive liability and an easy target for younger, more athletic ball handlers. At this point, he's a slightly supercharged Kyle Korver trying to cash in on past performance. 

Thompson would be an intriguing option on a prove-it deal coming off the bench, but that option isn't feasible. He's unable to accept his new role, and there's no chance his issues will magically resolve themselves. Signing him to plaster on the marquee for the Intuit Dome would be a grave mistake. Unfortunately, he's damaged goods and not worth the headache or the price tag.