Kerr: Moving on to Mavs was right call for Klay

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LAS VEGAS — After his first practice with Team USA ahead of the Olympics, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr addressed the departure of Klay Thompson to the Dallas Mavericks and wished the five-time All-Star well after “13 incredible years.”

“What he did for the team, the organization, for the Bay Area, for me personally — the relationship that we had, all the incredible success but more importantly just going through it all together, it has been so meaningful and so amazing,” said Kerr, who coached Thompson for 10 of his 13 seasons with Golden State.

“We are going to miss Klay. We wish him the best. These things rarely go like you want where you get to draw it up and execute it and everybody goes out together. We were hoping that could happen, but it didn’t. We wish Klay well, but we love him and we’ll miss him.”

Thompson agreed to a three-year, $50 million deal to join the Mavericks as a free agent Monday; the sign-and-trade with Dallas, which included six teams total, was officially announced Saturday night. It marked the end of a run with the Warriors that resulted in four championships and the formation of the league’s greatest shooting backcourt with Thompson and Stephen Curry.

But after a difficult season that saw him being pulled from the starting lineup for a time, Thompson decided it was time to make a change. Kerr said he’d talked with Thompson about his decision and that he “completely understands” where he was coming from.

“That’s really my job as a coach, is to help him,” Kerr said. “I think that’s really been the toughest thing for Klay, dealing with the injuries and the aftermath. Two years, to be out two straight years with career-threatening injuries. Prior to that Klay … He didn’t need a lot of counsel. The last couple of years, he’s needed it because this has been so tough for him. I’m amazed at his ability to come back from those injuries, to help us win another championship, to play at the level he’s played at.”

Kerr said the move was the right decision for Thompson.

“I think it makes sense for him in his heart to get a different change of pace, change of location,” Kerr said. “Get out of California, go play on a different team. It’s what’s right for him right now.”

Kerr is intimately familiar with the process of change from his own playing days, having seen up close how the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls teams in the late 1990s came to an end. He said that personal history helped give him context for the current state of the Warriors, and he admitted that he never felt like the team was going to have a storybook ending.

“I haven’t ever had fantasies that this thing would just go on for another five, six years and Steph, Klay and Dray would retire together and I would retire with them. … There’s never been that thought,” Kerr said. “I’ve been around the league for a long time, whether it’s Chicago or other situations. It’s never easy, when these things start to run out.

“But the biggest thing is the relationships endure. The memories endure. Klay’s going to have a statue outside Chase [Center] someday, he’ll be beloved by his teammates and coaches and our fans forever. And yeah, it’s never easy. But it’s all going to, I think, it’ll all work out for everyone.”

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