In Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson suffered a torn left ACL that has left him sidelined ever since. When training camp opened late last month, the Warriors were holding out hope Thompson could possibly return sometime after the All-Star break.
Coach Steve Kerr, in an interview with Logan Murdock of NBC Sports BayArea released Tuesday morning, says Thompson may not play at all in the 2019-20 campaign.
"Generally an ACL for a basketball player is a full year recovery," Kerr said. "And if it's a full year for Klay, that puts him out for the season. We've kind of left the door open in case the rehab goes perfectly and the doctors say he can go. The reality is on April 1, that's the nine-month mark, he got his surgery on July 1. April 1 is nine months post-op for an ACL ... it's unlikely that he's going to play this year."
When the Warriors opened training camp, Thompson said he would stick to the rehab plan and that it’s not worth pushing too hard too soon at this stage. Recovery times vary, but ACL tears typically take roughly six months to rehab, with additional time after that to regain full strength and mobility.
“The last thing you want to do is rush back, especially for a player like me who wants to play ’til his late 30s,” Thompson said.
Kerr, who tore his ACL in college while at Arizona, told NBC Sports BayArea that he believes Thompson still needs time to fully heal.
"You have to look at it realistically," Kerr said. "I had an ACL [tear] in college, and I missed a whole season. Generally, an ACL for a basketball player is a full-year recovery, and if it's a full year for Klay, that puts them out for the season.
"We have to prepare our young guys to fill that role behind him, and when he gets back, whenever that is, hopefully these young guys now are developed and in the rotation and ready to really be contributors on a playoff team and we can get better."
Later on Tuesday, Kerr clarified his comments to say that Thompson hasn't been completely ruled out for this season.
"My comment was very matter of face. I wasn't announcing anything. He's doing great with his rehab. It's still possible he could play," Kerr said. "But I forgot, with modern media, 'unlikely' is going to be on the ticker, OUT FOR THE YEAR and all that stuff. Probably my mistake for opening my mouth."
Thompson has been around the team in recent weeks and following Sunday's practice, Murdock reports he stood along the baseline as players wrapped up individual workouts. One of the most durable players in the NBA, Thompson has appeared in 615 of a possible 640 regular-season games and set the team record for consecutive games played (214). Being out of the lineup and the flow of regular games has been a challenge for him, Kerr said.
"He's bored," Kerr said. "I mean, Klay loves basketball, he loves to play, so he's at the point in his rehab, three-plus months in, where his knee feels pretty good. He's not in pain. He can get out there and shoot around, but he's got to let it heal, and he can't run, he can't cut. So we'll see him in the weight room, in the training room, getting his work in.
“But I feel bad for him. You never feel part of it unless you're actually playing and with the guys, and he misses that."
The Warriors open their 2019-20 season on Thursday as they host the LA Clippers (10:30 ET, TNT).
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.