Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr warned on Tuesday that shooting guard Klay Thompson could miss the entire 2019-2020 season as he recovers from a serious knee injury.
Kerr said Thompson, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during the NBA Finals in June, realistically faced up to a year on the sidelines.
Previous assessments had suggested Thompson may be ready to return towards the end of the regular season after the All-Star break.
However, Kerr, whose team open their campaign against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, said the Warriors were preparing to play the entire season without Thompson.
“It’s unlikely that he’s going to play this year,” Kerr said. “So we have to understand that.”
“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.”
Thompson’s father Mychal had earlier suggested during an interview with 95.7 The Game radio station that his son may be fit to play by March.
“There’s no definitive date, but that would be nine months from the injury. As long as he’s dedicated and determined in his rehab,” Thompson senior said.
However, that scenario appears increasingly unlikely, with Kerr saying a new generation of younger Warriors players must step up to replace Thompson.
“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,” Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area.
The Warriors reached five straight NBA Finals between 2015 and 2019 but head into this season in a state of flux, with the injury to Thompson and the departure of Kevin Durant depriving the six-time NBA champions of two key pillars of their recent dominant era.