Golden State Warriors

Report: Klay Thompson won’t play Christmas Day; January return ‘plausible’

Earlier this season, when the Warriors and Suns played two games against each other within a week, with each team earning a win, the stage was set for their matchup on Christmas Day. The two teams with the best records in the NBA will still draw a large audience on Dec. 25, but one player many hoped to see reportedly won’t be there.

That would be Warriors guard Klay Thompson. He was set to possibly return from back-to-back catastrophic injuries on Dec. 20 or Dec. 23 and be ready by Christmas. Now, a report from The Athletic says that won’t happen, and the earliest Thompson could play is Dec. 28.

That’s obviously a bummer. But with Thompson the only player in NBA history to tear an ACL and rupture an Achilles tendon without playing a game between injuries, a cautious approach seems wise, especially with the Warriors winning so many games.

In fact, according to Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle, Thompson could return in early- to mid-January.

The team has said that Thompson’s first game back will be at home, which rules out the Dec. 30 game at Denver as a possibility. Though Dec. 28 is still in play as a potential return date, the source conceded that early- to mid-January might be more plausible for Thompson at this point.

Connor Letourneau/San Francisco Chronicle

Letourneau details in his report that the Warriors play a sparse home slate early in 2022, which could further delay Thompson’s return. The Warriors have said that Thompson will play his first game in more than 30 months in front of his home fans at Chase Center.

The only important aspect of any of this is Thompson’s health, however. He’s an All-Star, a fan favorite, and a three-time NBA champion for Golden State. He’s recovered from his injuries and working on his conditioning, thankfully. But a smooth integration back into NBA basketball will help him stay healthy, both physically and mentally, as the Warriors mobilize for a run at the NBA title in 2021-22.

And besides, it doesn’t matter if he plays on Christmas Day. Whenever Thompson returns, his re-entry into the league will be a gift for Warriors fans and the entire NBA.

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