Steve Kerr thanks Klay Thompson for '10 incredible years,' says ex-Warrior needed 'a shift'

LAS VEGAS — Before he turned to the business of coaching Team USA, coach Steve Kerr thanked one of his favorite players he has ever coached who is no longer under his employ — Klay Thompson.

“I want to thank Klay for 10 incredible years…that I was there for,” Kerr said Saturday, before taking any questions following his first day of practice for Olympic training camp.

Thompson, a pillar of the Golden State Warriors’ four championships won under Kerr, left the organization to sign a three-year, $50 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks. Kerr, in extended comments about Thompson, said the player made it clear he needed “a shift.”

“What he did for the team, the organization, for the Bay Area, and for me personally, the relationship that we have, all the incredible success,” Kerr said. “But more importantly than that, just going through it all together has been so meaningful, so amazing. And we’re going to miss Klay.”

Thompson played 11 seasons with the Warriors, missed two others due to devastating leg injuries, and in between was selected to five consecutive All-Star teams. Last season was easily his toughest on the court with Golden State, and for the first time since his rookie year, he spent time coming off the bench — which he admitted was difficult.

It became clear early in free agency that Thompson and the Warriors would not find a path to a new contract that would keep him in the Bay, something Kerr said hasn’t “hit” him yet.

“These things rarely go like you want…where everybody goes out together,” Kerr said. “We were hoping that could happen, but it didn’t. And, we wish Klay well, but we love him.”

Kerr said he spoke with Thompson as the player and team were splitting, and Thompson gave Kerr a “really good description of his frame of mind.”

“I completely understand,” Kerr said. “Sometimes in life, we all need a shift, just a fresh start, whatever it is, no matter what profession. Sometimes you just need a change. I think that’s it, that’s the easiest way to describe why Klay is leaving.”

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(Photo: Noah Graham / NBAE via Getty Images)

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