After a week of scrimmaging, Klay Thompson has been cleared to be a full participant in team practices. The shooting guard is trending to a return toward the end of December.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Anthony Slater were the first to report the development.
Thompson hasn’t played competitively in over two years. He tore his ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals, and then suffered a torn Achilles tendon before the 2020-21 season began. Knowing the nature of those two injuries, the Warriors have been slow-playing his rehab.
Thompson scrimmaged at least twice last week in a 5-on-5 setting. With the team on a four-game road trip, Golden State had to get creative with finding players to run. Free agent guard Dante Exum and Thompson’s older brother Mychel were among the players featured in scrimmages, Charania and Slater reported.
General manager Bob Myers recently said Thompson was in the “last step” of his rehab process. But that take came when Thompson was only still scrimmaging; now he’s advanced even closer to returning.
As The Athletic noted, NBA practices typically aren’t the most intense. But Thompson being fully cleared provides him a chance to get re-acclimated with some of his teammates on the court.
Myers also said that the team has agreed to make Thompson’s first action back a home game. Knowing that, the most likely dates for Thompson to make his much-anticipated return — barring a setback — are Dec. 20 against the Kings, Dec. 23 against Memphis, or Dec. 28 vs. Denver.
The Warriors are an NBA-best 14-2 without Thompson, but will welcome the five-time All-Star back with open arms. The last time Thompson played an NBA game, he was one of the league’s premier two-way players — an elite 3-point shooter and physical, versatile perimeter defender.
The Warriors’ early success without Thompson is the story of the NBA season so far, but they won’t have to do it much longer.