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  • Writer's pictureScott Hatter

Will the warriors ever get to come out and play?

Due to the timing, it was covered, but somewhat under the radar. The same day as the NBA draft and a day before free agency opened, Klay Thompson, while recovering from a left ACL tear during the finals in 2019, tore his right Achilles tendon. So much about this new was simultaneously disheartening and unsurprising. Let's start with the obvious. It's always really sad to see a player, not to mention a star, and from most of what we read, a pretty good dude, go down with a major injury. So much of Lebron's legacy will be tied to the fact that he has stayed remarkably healthy over his career. Even MJ had a serious injury, although thankfully (?) very early in his career. In this case, to see Klay go down while in the midst of recovering from another major injury is an even bigger punch to the gut. The warriors are a fun team to watch and pretty hard to root against (except for maybe Draymond). They arguably revolutionized the modern NBA, or at least perfected it for a 4-5 year run. In the world of open free agency, that approaches a Bulls/Celtics level dynasty and I think we are all really excited to see the splash brothers back out on the floor competing for another title, in a new city, with a new arena. Everything was looking bright for the post-Durant era of the Warriors.

All of that promise seemingly disappearing in an instant, is what is so disheartening about this situation. But I was also struck with a weird feeling when I saw this news...I wasn't surprised at all. Let's start with the obvious. The amount of athletes that get injured a second time (almost always on the opposite leg) while rehabbing a major injury is too large of a list to generate. Sometimes the injuries are soft tissue (hamstring, quad, etc), but they are also often major (a tear in the opposite knee, torn muscles, and yes torn achilles). Doctors generally say this is due to so much focus being on the health of one side of your body that the other side gets neglected to a degree, or because of how you walk, run, etc while favoring your injured side, it creates small issues that turn into big issues the more strain to put on your body. So while this is certainly sad new for Klay Thompson, it honestly just isn't that shocking.

Now here's the eerie part. This will now be the 3rd straight year that Golden State will be associated with a marquee name and a torn Achilles. While it happened when playing for the Pelicans, Demarcus Cousins rehabbed with GS in 2018 before playing 30 games. Then, there is the infamous Kevin Durant "ripple tear." in the 2019 NBA image I don't think will ever be scrubbed from my memory. And now, Klay goes down in 2020.

This is obviously all coincidence, but still, that's crazy. In the case of Cousins, the Warriors investment was small, and DC moved to the Lakers in 2019 with little impact. With Durant, it was an excuse to not even try to pay him, and let Brooklyn max him out and deal with the fall-out. But in this case, Klay just signed a 5-year, $190M contract during the start of 2019 free agency, leaving another 4 seasons on his deal, and now the 2nd straight year that he will get paid nearly $40M to try to come back. And given the timing of this injury, and the hope that the NBA eventually gets back to a normal calendar, there is almost no way he is ready until the start of the 2022 calendar year, or almost half-way through the '21-'22 season. So, essentially, about half of the $190M in salary paid to one of the best 3-point shooters of all time, has zero return on investment. As someone who loves rooting for Steph and Klay, it's really hard to watch the window vanish. I was stoked to see them come back this year and prove everyone wrong and show they could win without Durant. I personally think Andrew Wiggins could be a stud along those 2 guys and with James Wiseman, it's a really interesting starting five (Steph, Klay, Wiggins, Draymond, and Wiseman). That's up in smoke now. And while that is a relatively young team (Steph is the "elder stateman" at 32, Draymond/Klay are 30, Wiggins is only 25, and Wiseman is all of 19), this latest news somehow feels like the beginning of the end.

I can't help but be reminded of the Phillies back in 2011. They had won the title in '08 and had invested in all of their stars...they were all in with an insane core - Rollins, Utley, Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt - and oh yeah, Ryan Howard. Then, in the 2011 NLDS, Howard, at age 31, and having just signed a 5-year $131M contract extension, went down with a torn achilles on a routine ground ball. I remember that at bat. Howard was never the same. And while I don't expect Klay to be that inept upon his return, the Phillies were so stuck with Howard's contract that they had to hit the eject button and continue to pay him until 2016. In the 9 seasons since Howard got hurt, not only have the Phillies been unable to make the playoffs, they haven't even produced a winning record. I think the Warriors will do better than that (for one, the NBA lets in 100 teams into the playoffs), but I have a really bad feeling that this is the end of this version for "The Town." I, for one, hope that prediction is way off and one day soon, with a full roster, set to dominate once again, the Warriors will indeed, come out to play.

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