It’s important to start with this: The tweet Andre Iguodala sent Monday morning might have nothing to do with Luke Walton recruiting Klay Thompson to join the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, but if we connect a few dots, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that such a situation is exactly what Iguodala is implying.
This all begins because Iguodala kicked off Labor Day with a fairly benign tweet that doesn’t seem to mean anything at first glance, but is easy to draw some conclusions from given context.
Luke over there recruiting like a mf...— Andre Iguodala (@andre) September 3, 2018
Kinda nonspecific, right? Well, would you feel differently if I told you that Walton is in Qatar with Thompson right now? (h/t Lakers Reddit)
Now the first takeaway from that video is how much Thompson loves horses, and the second is that he and Walton do seem to be getting along awfulllllly well. Is that evidence of tampering? Nope, Walton and Thompson know each other from when Walton was a coach with the Warriors, and as long as they aren’t getting caught talking free agency, the Lakers should be safe from another tampering fine.
Walton also may not be recruiting Thompson at all. Iguodala is a famously interesting individual, and he might just be trying to have some fun with fans, his teammates, Walton, Thompson and the media (like yours truly) working themselves into a tizzy over this. He might just get a chuckle out of seeing Thompson and Walton have to answer questions about it eventually.
And even if Walton is recruiting Thompson, maybe it’s not for the NBA at all, but for a future BIG 3 run together, an idea Thompson’s Instagram post from the event poked some fun at:
But Thompson is an unrestricted free agent next summer, theoretically free to sign with any NBA team, BIG 3 team, or horse racing team he wants. Because of this tweet, as well as Thompson being the son of Lakers legend Mychal Thompson — who is also the Lakers’ local radio broadcaster and the owner of one of the best Twitter accounts on the planet — there is going to be even more speculation that Klay could be the max-level free agent that L.A.’s Luol Deng buyout officially gave them the room for.
The only problem, as is usually the case with free agency speculation, is the facts. Klay himself recently told Mark Medina of the Bay Area News Group that he wants to be with the Warriors forever:
“I’ve said it many times before: I would like to be a Warrior for life,” Thompson told Bay Area News Group before hosting a party at Hotel Vitale as a prelude to his first annual Thompson Family Foundation Golf Tournament on Sunday at TPC Harding Park. “Contract negotiations are way down the line. But I think we all have the same interest. I would love to be here for the rest of my career.”
To ensure that, would Thompson entertain securing an extension with the Warriors before or during the 2019-20 season? Or would Thompson prefer to become a free agent in 2019, potentially to maximize his earnings?
“It’s tough to say,” Thompson said. “I’d definitely be interested. But at the end of the day, I’m going to be a free agent in 2019. Number one on my list would obviously be to stay with the Warriors.”
His father, Mychal, made similar comments to Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area:
“Klay definitely wants to play his whole career in Golden State and the Bay Area -- there’s no question about that,” Mychal explained. ”He loves it up there ... loves the fans.
However, Mychal also left the door open on the chance that his son could leave:
“But let’s just say that negotiations will probably continue in the summer of ‘19.”
That’s not factually wrong, as without an extension, Klay will be a free agent negotiating with the Warriors next offseason. Still, Klay’s quotes and his very public happiness in Golden State would seem to suggest he’ll be remaining there long term, no matter how much Walton is “recruiting like an mf” or not.
I even tried to look for a needle in the haystack quote that implied that Klay loved being coached by Walton or that he’d always love to play for him, but the only one a cursory Google search revealed was from 2016, right after Walton was hired by the Lakers, when Thompson said this to reporters (via Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com):
“I can’t believe Luke Walton’s the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers,” Klay Thompson said. “I feel like I was just watching him play five years ago for them.”
While that is factually accurate — Walton literally was on the Lakers five years before Thompson gave that quote (never change, Klay) — it’s hardly proof that Thompson is any more prone to being recruited by Walton than any of his Warriors teammates. So while this Qatar trip will be a fun little thing to look back on if Thompson actually ends up in a Lakers uniform, there are still a lot of things that would have to happen before Iguodala tweets this into existence.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.