Steve Kerr says it's 'unlikely' that Klay Thompson will play this season

There has been some hope that Klay Thompson would suit up for the Golden State Warriors this season after tearing his ACL on June 13 during Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has snuffed most of that out. In an interview with Logan Murdock of NBC Sports Bay Area, Kerr said "it's unlikely that he's going to play this year.”

While the All-Star break in February had been given as a target for Thompson’s return (and Thompson’s father Mychal had suggested mid-March as a possible date), that seems shockingly optimistic given the 11-12 month recovery time that’s common for NBA players returning from an ACL tear. Returning in February would give Thompson just seven months to recover from his July surgery. Players like Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker needed nearly a year to fully recover.

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OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 13: Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after hurting his leg against the Toronto Raptors in the second half during Game Six of the 2019 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 13, 2019 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, center, reacts after being injured during the second half of Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, June 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 13: Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after hurting his leg against the Toronto Raptors in the second half during Game Six of the 2019 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 13, 2019 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 13: Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after hurting his leg against the Toronto Raptors in the second half during Game Six of the 2019 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 13, 2019 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Klay Thompson, escolta de los Warriors de Golden State, recibe atención tras lastimarse en el sexto partido de la Final de la NBA ante los Raptors de Toronto, el jueves 13 de junio de 2019 (AP Foto/Tony Avelar)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 13: Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after hurting his leg against the Toronto Raptors in the second half during Game Six of the 2019 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 13, 2019 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON- JUNE 13 - Fans react to the injury of Klay Thompson. Toronto fans watch, worry and celebrate at Jurassic park as the Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors in game six to win the NBA Championship at Oracle Arena in Oakland outside at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. June 13, 2019. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON- JUNE 13 - Drake and his entourage react to the injury of Klay Thompson. Toronto fans watch, worry and celebrate at Jurassic park as the Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors in game six to win the NBA Championship at Oracle Arena in Oakland outside at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. June 13, 2019. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) is greeted by teammates after walking back onto the court to shoot free throws after an injury against the Toronto Raptors during the second half of Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, June 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
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Kerr saying it’s “unlikely” that Thompson will play this season does leave room for him to beat the recovery odds, but Kerr isn’t betting on it. He also essentially ruled out an April return for Thompson, which would have him playing his first games of the season right before or during the playoffs.

"You have to look at it realistically. 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've kind of left the door open in case the rehab goes perfectly and the doctors say he can go. But the reality is, on April 1, that’s the nine-month mark. ... April versus nine months post-op for an ACL.

"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."

It already seems like Kerr is planning for Thompson to return during the 2020-2021 NBA season, which makes nobody happy — least of all Thompson. Kerr told NBC Sports that Thompson has been around the team more lately, but he’s missing basketball something fierce.

"He's bored. 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."

Thompson’s dad Mychal, himself a former NBA player, gave his son some advice for getting through what’s likely to be one of the toughest seasons of his career. Via NBC Sports:

"It's tough. I told him it's gonna be tough. He's an ultimate competitor. He wants to play. He has so much fun playing for the Warriors and being around the game that he loves.

"I told him it's gonna be a tough mental grind. You got to keep yourself busy — be around the team, get on the air sometimes with [Bob] Fitzgerald and Kelenna [Azubuike]. Call a game sometimes, they'll be happy to have you call the game.

"Be on the bench and help coach, try to come up with some other business interests. That's what you have to do. You have to keep yourself mentally busy otherwise you'll go crazy because you miss it so much."

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