Golden State Warriors swingman Klay Thompson participated Friday in his first full practice since tearing his left ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. It had been 470 days since Thompson’s injury and his return was a welcome sight for coaches and teammates who missed having him around.
“It was great to have him out on the floor, in the locker room,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said during a video call with reporters. “Just his presence alone gave us a jolt of energy and excitement. Practice went well. This is the first practice coming off an ACL injury and a year and a half absence so I didn’t expect him to be in top shape, in top form, and he was not, but he moved well and it’s a good first step.”
Thompson originally tore his ACL on June 13, 2019 after landing awkwardly after going up for a dunk attempt and getting fouled by then Toronto Raptors swingman Danny Green. Thompson has been around the Warriors off and on since having surgery last summer, but Friday marked his first official team practice since the injury.
“We didn’t scrimmage,” Kerr said. “We haven’t had a 5-on-5 scrimmage yet. We’re trying to ease into it because of the long layoff. But Klay got a lot of good work in and I think he was able to gauge kind of where he is right now and what needs to do going forward.”
Thompson did not join the Warriors for the beginning of their minicamp earlier this week as he was still finishing a league-mandated quarantine. Kerr is hopeful that Thompson will be able to scrimmage with the rest of his teammates when that time comes, but wants to see how the All-Star feels after getting in a full practice again.
“We’ll see,” Kerr said. “It kind of depends how he reacts to today and what Rick [Celebrini] says and what Klay says. Just kind of have to take it step by step. So we’ll kind of see where he is tomorrow and make a decision accordingly.”
Warriors All-Stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green have already been excused from the Warriors minicamp because of family reasons, so Thompson’s presence was felt even more as the Warriors try to build a new group around the organization’s proud core players.
“When he was running fullcourt, he looked healthy,” Warriors center Marquese Chriss said. “He looked good. He looked like Klay Thompson, to say the least. I don’t really know how to explain it. He looked like himself. He looked athletic. He looked like he was shooting the ball well. He looked comfortable.”
Kerr had to chuckle when asked if Thompson was vocal as he returned to practice.
“He was kind of quiet,” Kerr said. “He did yawn really loudly when I was talking to the team so nothing’s changed that much. Klay is Klay. So it was just great to have him out there.”